CLIFTON, N.J. (AP) — Lorena Ochoa discovered one of the pitfalls of being right behind top-ranked Annika Sorenstam in the world of women’s golf.
When you are No. 2, there are no private jets to fly you around the country for those Monday morning news conference to promote upcoming tournaments.
So after finishing a disappointing second in the Ginn Open at Reunion, Fla., Ochoa got on a commercial flight to rain-soaked New Jersey and landed around 1 a.m., less than 11 hours before a news conference to promote the Sybase Classic Presented by ShopRite at the Upper Montclair Country Club from May 17-20.
“I’m not No. 1 yet,” Ochoa quipped when asked about the commercial flight, which was delayed a couple of hours by a nor’easter that drenched the East Coast.
With Sorenstam expected to be sidelined for at least a month with a ruptured disk and herniated disk in her back, then is little doubt Ochoa will take over the top spot.
The 25-year-old Mexican is taking advantage of an off week on the LPGA Tour to return to Mexico to be with her family before playing in the Corona Championship in Morelia, Michoacan, in her native country.
“I have been dreaming of getting to that position for many, many years,” Ochoa said of being No. 1. “I have been getting closer and closer with each year. Finally this year, it could happen. I am right there, close and playing good. I am going to keep it going and get to the top.”
Ochoa could have claimed the top spot by winning Sunday, but she played the final six holes in 6 over par in losing by a stroke to Brittany Lincicome.
The two women went to the final hole tied for the lead. Lincicome won when Ochoa missed a 10-foot bogey putt.
Lincicome and Ochoa hit their drives into the rough. Lincicome laid up with her second shot. Hitting next, Ochoa went for the green and found a bunker.
“I was trying to win the tournament,” Ochoa said. “I had a chance to reach the green in two and I was going to go for it. I wanted to take advantage of that. It didn’t turn out to be a good shot, and it wasn’t for me.”
Ochoa insisted No. 18 wasn’t the difference in the tournament. It was her play on the final six holes, and the 2006 player of the year plans to learn from it.
“When you miss the opportunity and open the door, someone else is going to be there,” Ochoa said. “I’m OK. I’m glad this is a week off. I am glad I am going to go home and relax. I need it. I’m fine, though. I want to make sure I’m 100 percent for the tournament in Mexico. I want to win that tournament.”
Ochoa hopes Sorenstam can return soon.
“I am sure she is going to be back because she is not done yet,” said Ochoa, who leads the LPGA in earnings, scoring average, birdies, top 10 finishes and sand saves this year. “She wants to win and she is very competitive. I guess I should just take this as an opportunity to keep playing good and try to use this as an advantage.”
Ochoa, who won six times on tour last year, would like to win a couple of times in the four events before the Sybase, where she is the defending champion.
The tournament was moved from Wykagyl Country Club in the New York suburbs to the Upper Montclair course late last year because of work being done at Wykagyl.
“I like traditional golf courses, and this is one of them with high trees, tight fairways, rough,” said Ochoa, who has won once this year.