Teeing it up for the first time as the No. 1 in the LPGA's Rolex Rankings and playing in her home country at the Corona Morelia Championship in Morelia, Mexico, Lorena Ochoa couldn't ice the cake with a storybook win, but she did birdie the final hole to tie for second with Julieta Granada at 18-under 274.
The player who ruined Ochoa's homecoming was Silvia Cavalleri, who shot a 20-under 272 courtesy of a final-round 66 that featured seven birdies and no bogeys. It was the first win for Cavalleri, a 35-year-old from Italy, and the first LPGA victory for an Italian.
After a lackluster 74 in the second round, Ochoa climbed back into contention last Saturday with a course-record nine-under 64, during which she made eight birdies and an eagle. "I knew I needed to go low to put myself in position," Ochoa said.
The 64 placed her in a tie at 13 under with Cavalleri and Granada entering the final round, but while Ochoa shot 68, she could not keep pace with Cavalleri. Not that it was all bad for Ochoa. She received a visit from President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico, who watched the final holes before presenting Cavalleri with the winner's trophy and Ochoa with a plaque commemorating her rise to No. 1.
"I would have loved to win the tournament in front of him," said Ochoa, "but I appreciate it very much."
For Cavalleri the president was just one more Ochoa supporter to block out. Something she did with a hot putter and a wise strategy, which she described as "attack when I think it's the moment and be conservative when I think I need to be conservative."
With a check for $195,000 tucked into her back pocket, Cavalleri doesn't have to be conservative anymore.
Last week 8,544 golfers entered the U.S. Open, but Michelle Wie was not one of them.
After narrowly missing in the sectional qualifier last year, Wie had vowed that she would try again. That was before the 17-year-old injured her right wrist in February. Wie has not played competitively since then and plans to make her first start at the LPGA Ginn Tribute, which begins on May 31.
Wie would've had to go through local and sectional qualifying to get into the men's Open. The first local qualifiers began on May 2.
Take Him to the Bank?
John Daly has reportedly been paid to play on a foreign tour four times in the last 15 months. Last week was the first time he stuck around for four rounds.
Abu Dhabi Championship Euro 1/20/06 MC
Deutsche Bank Players Euro 7/28/06 MC
BMW Asian Open Euro 4/20/07 MC
Pine Valley Beijing Open Asian 4/29/07 29th
Same Name Game
When Lisa Fernandes Monday qualified for the Corona Morelia Championship and then found herself near the top of Thursday's leader board after shooting a four-under 69, she was asked to clarify the spelling of her name.
"Lisa Fernandez is a member of the U.S. Women's softball team and spells her name with a "Z," the golfer explained. "Now people confuse me with her. One guy actually came up to me and wanted to shake the hand of an Olympic athlete. I had to tell him that he hadn't done it yet."
Fernandes, who wound up finishing 52nd, 20 shots behind Cavalleri, should be happy she shares a name (soundalike, anyway) with a famous athlete. European tour player Stuart Little, who finished ninth at last week's Open de Espana, bears the same moniker as the main character of the E.B. White classic, who's a mouse.
Nick Flanagan, the 22-year-old Australian who won the 2003 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont Country Club, took his first professional title on Sunday, winning the Nationwide tour's Henrico County Open in Richmond.
After shooting a 13-under 275, Flanagan won a four-man playoff, eliminating Bryn Parry on the third extra hole. The real prize? The victory pushed him from 33rd to eighth on the Nationwide money list. The top 25 finishers earn 2008 PGA Tour cards.