PATTAYA, Thailand (AP) A few minutes after finishing off her 25th LPGA Tour victory, Lorena Ochoa was asked if she thinks she’s mentally tougher than her rivals.
“Yes,” Ochoa said.
She’s simply better than everybody else, too.
That was obvious again Sunday when she rallied to win the Honda LPGA Thailand.
Three strokes behind playing partner Paula Creamer at the start of the round, Ochoa shot a 6-under 66 for a three-stroke victory.
“It has been a great week,” Ochoa said. “My goal was to win the tournament. Here I am with the trophy and I am very pleased. I played especially well.”
Ochoa finished at 14-under 274 – shooting 71-69-68 the first three days – on the Siam Country Club’s Plantation Course, and earned $217,500 for her second straight season-opening victory. Last year, she opened with a victory in Singapore in the HSBC Women’s Champions and went on to win five of her first six events.
“I think it is a good idea to wait a few months for my first tournament,” Ochoa said. “I just tried my best. It gave me motivation to win my first tournament. Hopefully, I will win more tournaments.”
She’ll be in Singapore next week for her title defense.
“This is a good preparation for next week, as the course is pretty much the same,” Ochoa said. “I will take a rest and will be ready to defend my title on Thursday.”
South Korea’s Hee Young Park shot a 65 to finish a career-high second. The third-ranked Creamer had a 73, leaving her four strokes back at 10 under.
“I started on the wrong foot. It wasn’t my day,” Creamer said. “Lorena played awesome. … It would have been difficult for me if I had played better.
“It wasn’t anything. I never hit it well. I never gave myself any chances and when I did, I couldn’t make any birdies.”
Stacy Prammanasudh, an American who has a Thai father, shot a course-record 63 to tie for fourth with Brittany Lang (73) at 7 under.
“It was unexpected for me as it was for everybody else,” Prammanasudh said. “It was just one of those days that you putt the ball and they all go in.”
In overcast conditions that took the edge off the heat, Ochoa wiped out Creamer’s three-shot lead in three holes, picking up two strokes on the par-5 second with an 8-foot birdie putt and Creamer’s bogey, and pulling even when Creamer dropped another stroke on the par-3 third.
Ochoa took the outright lead at 10 under on No. 5 with a 5-footer, holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 sixth and pulled away with birdies on the par-3 eighth and par-5 11th and 13th. She bogeyed the par-3 16th, got the stroke back with a 5-foot birdie putt on 17 and parred 18.
Ochoa switched putters during the offseason.
“I worked very hard during the offseason,” Ochoa said. “I changed my putter. It was a major decision, but I feel very good now.”
Park, winless in 22 events last year as a rookie, played the first four holes in 4 under, birdieing Nos. 2 and 3 and eagling the par-4 fifth with a 60-footer.
She overcame an opening 79 with rounds of 64 and 69.
“I was sick on the first day, Park said. “I had to go to the hospital and get an IV in me. But, I felt better day after day. Normally, I travel with my friends, but this week my family came to watch me play. It was a big support for me and that was one of the reasons for me to go low under par.”
Mika Miyazato (70) was sixth at 6 under, and Yani Tseng (68), Helen Alfredsson (70), Angela Stanford (71) and Sophie Gustafson (70) followed at 5 under in the event that attracted a tournament-record 16,500 fans Sunday. Stanford won the season-opening SBS Open two weeks ago in Hawaii and has three victories in her last eight starts.