SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) — She couldn’t find the fairways off the tee and couldn’t scrape together a birdie when just one would’ve given her the lead. Once again, Lorena Ochoa walked away from a major championship without the trophy.
Yet she hardly sounded devastated. Instead, the world’s top-ranked player seemed almost serene in the face of another major setback – this time finishing tied for second with Angela Park at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“I’m doing OK,” she said Sunday after finishing at 3-under, two strokes back of Cristie Kerr. “I’ve been in worse places. It hurts, but I just did everything I could. I tried really hard every day, every shot. It just didn’t happen for me.
“I’m quite happy. If you think about it, it’s been good. I gave myself a chance and I wouldn’t change that for anything.”
Regardless, the fifth-year pro is now 0-for-23 in majors, a surprising drought for a player with 12 LPGA tour victories and ranked 10th on the tour’s career money list heading into this week. This year, Ochoa has three tour victories and leads the money list with more than $1.5 million.
Yet her resume continues to have one important item missing.
She sounded ready to change that heading into Sunday’s play, saying it would be a special day and she felt good about her game. She wanted to play her way into the final group as she closed out the final seven holes of her third round Sunday morning, and did that despite three-putting her final hole.
Sitting just one stroke behind Kerr heading into the final 18 holes, she appeared ready for a title run. But while she managed to play her way into a tie for the lead, she never could push out in front.
“For sure, you don’t want to be thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m in the last group in a major championship. I’m playing in the U.S. Open. Maybe I’ll win,”’ she said. “If you think that, it’s no good. You just try to enjoy the day and just play as any other time.”
Unfortunately for her, she never found her rhythm after two early birdies. She missed the last five fairways in Sunday’s final round and didn’t give herself a birdie putt on the last five holes. She managed to save par after her third shot rolled off the back of the green on the par-5 No. 15, but couldn’t overcome an errant tee shot on No. 17 that ended up in a bunker and led to a bogey that effectively ended her title chase.
“She’s going to win plenty of tournaments and plenty of major championships,” said Kerr, who celebrated her first major title.
For now, though, Ochoa will have to wait until the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews in August. Not that she sounds anxious about it.
“It really hurts when I don’t win,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s just life. I’m going to go home now and have a good time with my family, my friends. They came here and I have no reason to be upset and cry in my room.
“It’s just an enjoyable moment being here and having the chance to win the U.S. Open. I’m OK. Sometimes people take it too seriously. I always try to approach things this way.”