SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, Ariz. (AP) – Lorena Ochoa made two eagles to take a one-stroke lead over Catriona Matthew in the suspended second round of the Safeway International on Friday.
The Mexican star was 9 under with four holes remaining when play was suspended because of darkness. She will have a 12-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 15th hole when play resumes Saturday.
“I’m in a good position where I like to be,” Ochoa said. (Related Article: Ochoa is out to change a country)
Matthew was 8 under through 17 holes, twice making chips for birdies. The Scot will have a 20-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 ninth hole when she closes out the second round.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen was the clubhouse leader at 7 under after a 68.
Play was suspended because of darkness for the second day in a row. On Thursday, rain and lightning stopped the tournament for about two hours, forcing 72 players to finish the first round Friday morning.
Rain and wind greeted them. The storm moved out by midday Friday, and there were no more delays, but about 60 players were still on the course when play was suspended.
“I’ve had six different outfits on today,” said Annika Sorenstam, who shot a 68 to finish the round at 3 under – six strokes behind Ochoa. “It’s been heavy for my caddie, but I think 4 under made the bag a little easier for him.”
The suspension of play may have been a tough break for Ochoa, who had a hot hand. Now she’ll have to return to the course on Saturday morning to finish the second round, then wait several hours before teeing off in the third round.
Ochoa eagled the par-4 sixth hole, holing a 6-iron from 165 yards. On the par-5 13th, she hit her second shot within 10 feet of the green and holed a 30-foot wedge shot.
“I’m hitting my irons really good,” she said.
Ochoa, who opened with a 69 on Thursday, has played well at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club, finishing tied for third in 2004, second in 2005 and tied for 24th a year ago. But she’s also had her heart broken here. In 2005, she blew a four-stroke lead with three holes to play, losing to Sorenstam in a playoff.
“I never think about what happened in 2005,” Ochoa said. “This is a new year, a new tournament.
“Arizona means a lot to me,” said Ochoa, who played at the University of Arizona. “I feel really comfortable playing out here. All the people give me warm backing and are cheering for me. This would be a special tournament to win.
“I’m going to try to go hole by hole and day by day and hopefully we’re really happy on Sunday.”
Ochoa teed off in the afternoon, after the weather cleared up, and she sensed an opportunity to attack the course. As she made the turn, she saw that she had tied Pettersen for the lead.
“I was 7 under making the turn, and I just kept looking at the leaderboard,” Ochoa said. “I was the one who still has nine holes to go. So I’d better try to get ahead of everybody.”
Pettersen, by contrast, tried to avoid looking at the leaderboard.
“I managed all the way until the 17th green,” Pettersen said. “Then I was sitting right in line with the scoreboard.”
Pettersen liked what she saw.
It may be a good thing Pettersen didn’t look too closely at the main leaderboard on the 18th hole, which had her name spelled “Petterson.” The 25-year-old Norwegian isn’t exactly a household name, although she has had 12 top-10 finishes in 70 tour events.
Pettersen struggled with elbow and back injuries in 2004 and 2005 but said she’s healthy. She looked strong on Friday, driving with authority and making birdies on the second, sixth, 11th and 15th holes. She missed birdies by inches on the 16th and 18th holes. She did not have a bogey.
“I feel really good,” Pettersen said. “I’ve been playing solid all year. I’m just trying not to get frustrated if the results don’t come.”