Cavalleri is first Italian winner in LPGA history

Cavalleri is first Italian winner in LPGA history

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — Silvia Cavalleri became the first Italian winner in LPGA Tour history Sunday, closing with a 7-under 66 for a two-stroke victory over Mexican star Lorena Ochoa and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada in the Corona Morelia Championship.

Cavalleri finished with a 20-under 272 total on the Tres Marias course and earned $195,000. She had seven birdies in her bogey-free final round in light rain.

Ochoa, the 2006 winner playing her first tournament as the No. 1 player in the world, shot a 68. Granada, also second last year, also finished with a 68.

A crowd of thousands, including Mexico President Felipe Calderon, crowded round the 18th hole to cheer Ochoa, who closed with a birdie to shouts of “Mexico! Mexico!” and “We love you Lorena!”

Cavalleri took the lead with birdies on Nos. 5-7, forcing Ochoa to take a more aggressive approach. The Mexican star pushed hard, but missed several birdies. She lost a ball on the 15th, but came back to par the hole.

“The first birdie gave me confidence. After that I was hot to win,” Cavalleri said. “It’s like a dream come true. I have a lot of emotions running through me. I am full of happiness.”

She said the turning point came with a birdie on the 17th hole.

“It was a dramatic moment. When the ball went in I thought, ‘I can win now,”’ she said.

Pat Hurst shot a 70 to finish fourth, five strokes back at 15 under. South Korean rookie Na On Min (72) followed at 13 under.

Stacy Prammanasudh, the Fields Open winner in Hawaii in February, closed with a 70 to finish at 12 under. Prammanasudh began the day well, birdieing six of her first 10 holes, but then stumbled with a bogey on the tricky 13th, followed by a double bogey on the 14th and a bogey on the 18th.

“I would have loved to have won,” Ochoa told the crowd, tears coming to her eyes as the crowd cheered.

She described the shots leading to her birdie in the 18th as “the best two shots in her life.”

“I knew had to take a risk. There are moments in golf you have to go for everything. That was one of those moments,” she said.

However, she said Cavalleri was a better player Sunday.

“Silvia definitely won the tournament. She deserved her victory,” she said.

Ochoa topped the world rankings last Monday 0.14 points ahead of Annika Sorenstam, news that sent shockwaves in Mexico.

“All the Mexicans are very proud of her,” Calderon said at the awards ceremony. “Lorena represents the Mexico we want to be. The Mexico that cannot be beaten; the Mexico that fights; the Mexico that opens paths in the world; the Mexico that wins.”

Calderon handed the cup to Cavalleri, who greeted it with a kiss.

“I’m very happy to win this tournament in Mexico,” she said. “To me, it is very similar to Italy, so it’s like I’m winning at home.”

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