Ochoa at ease and in control at LPGA Championship

Ochoa at ease and in control at LPGA Championship

A bogey-free 65 has Ochoa in the driver's seat.
Mel Evens/AP Photo

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (AP) — Her work for the day over and her name atop the leaderboard at another major championship, Lorena Ochoa grabbed some lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon at the movies.

“Maybe I’ll see ‘Sex in the City,”’ Ochoa said Friday. “I’ve never seen that show, and everybody is like, ‘You have to see it, you have to see it.’ So maybe I’ll do the movie so I’ll be done with it.

“Sometimes I don’t understand the English, so I miss a lot of jokes,” she said. “But that’s OK.”

She made it sound like a typical summer day – play some golf in the morning, have lunch, go to a movie. And that’s about how it felt Friday at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. It sure didn’t feel like work.

Ochoa rarely has felt this at ease between the ropes, missing only one fairway and one green, rolling in just enough putts for a 7-under 65 that gave her a one-shot lead over Lindsey Wright. (For updates, go to LPGA.com.)

It was her best score by three shots at the LPGA Championship. It matched her best score of the year.

And for the third straight time in a major, Ochoa had at least a share of the 36-hole lead. She won the other two with ease, and now goes into the weekend at Bulle Rock trying to become only the fourth woman to win three straight majors.

“It was very easy. I did enjoy it a lot,” Ochoa said. “I’m going to try to do two more rounds like that – stress free. It could have been one of those days I could have shoot 10 or 11 under. I’m glad I hit my driver good. I think for a major, it’s always important to hit your driver good. And hopefully, I continue the same for the next couple days.”

Ochoa was at 10-under 134, the lowest 36-hole score in the four years the LPGA Championship has been at Bulle Rock.

She called it her “best round in the season,” and it put her in a familiar spot.

“I think it’s just good to be in the lead … because my name means something, you know?” she said. “In a way, that’s what I’m trying to do – to put pressure on other players and to let them know that you want to win.”

Wright, who grew up in Australia and played college golf at Pepperdine, never has finished better than fourth on the LPGA Tour. She had the outright lead with a birdie on the 18th, but stumbled twice on her back nine until finishing with a birdie.

“Kind of nice to come into the weekend in this position, especially when Lorena is leading the tournament,” Wright said. “She’s obviously the person to beat. When you see her up there, you know she’s not going to make too many mistakes. It keeps me focused because I know I can’t make too many mistakes. I have to make birdies.”

Lorie Kane made three straight birdies to catch Ochoa in the afternoon, but the Canadian had to settle for a 70 and was two behind.

Three-time LPGA champion Annika Sorenstam tried to make a move with a 68, but she was still four shots behind. She sounded as though she anticipated a duel with the No. 1 player on Sunday.

“I think I’m in good shape,” Sorenstam said. “I played well here in the past. It’s a major, and 36 holes is nothing. The way I’m hitting it, I’m just waiting for the putts to drop. It could be a lot of fun.”

Ochoa took the lead with one final birdie, a 20-footer on the 18th hole that curled into the side of the cup. Ochoa swung her leg and pumped her fist, happy to see the last putt fall on a day when she missed a half-dozen putts shorter than that.

Her longest putt for birdie was about 25 feet on the 13th hole. She missed three birdie putts inside 8 feet. And even as the temperatures began to climb, Ochoa barely broke a sweat.

“She’s fun to watch,” Kane said.

The Canadian was in the afternoon draw, and was happy to stay in range. Kane has struggled this year, but was inspired with a 66 and even more pleased to keep it going.

“I know I’m playing some good golf,” Kane said. “I really have nothing to lose. I mean, there’s a lot of stories being told. Lorena has a great run going. What I read is that Paula (Creamer) is the best player never to win a major. I’m just here playing, and trying to have some fun doing it.

“This smile needs to be out there, loving the game of golf, and not working the game of golf.”

Ochoa sure could relate to that. Her golf was practically flawless, and when it gets like that, there is hardly any work involved.

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