Saturday, March 21, 2009

MasterCard Classic Friday: Ochoa's Tournament-Record-Tying 65 Gives Her 2-Shot Lead

If I were Lorena Ochoa, I'd be saying exactly what she said in the 1st-round interview for the MasterCard Classic. Sure, she got the bad-1st-round monkey at Bosque Real off her back in a big way--not only had she never broken 70 to start this event, her best round in it before her scintillating 65 today had been 68, too--but she's only 2-up on Na Yeon Choi and 3-up on Ya Ni Tseng and Brittany Lang (and Pat Hurst). This trio ranks among the hottest players on the planet right now and it's been very difficult to hold a lead on the LPGA. So what is the world #1 to do?

There are two more days to play. Anything can happen. I will play tomorrow as if I were three strokes behind, looking for the first place. I’ll go out 100 percent concentrated and calm. I am convinced that being conservative can be a huge mistake.

Yup, she's upping the ante, reminding everyone on tour that her mindset is to go low every round. Can the Young Guns in the lead chase pack keep up? What about rookies Shiho Oyama (69, T6) and Mika Miyazato (70, T12), who had to be feeling pretty good about their 1st career rounds at Bosque Real? How about Suzann Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, Hee Young Park, Ji Young Oh, and Grace Park, who joined Oyama at -3? And even more to the point, can other hot golfers like Ji-Yai Shin (74, T50), Katherine Hull (77, T96), Paula Creamer (73, T37), Cristie Kerr (72, T26), Jee Young Lee (73, T37), Jane Park (71, T23), Sun Young Yoo (70, T12), and Eun-Hee Ji (74, T50) shake off the doldrums, put the pedal to the metal, and get themselves back into contention with a mid-60s round or 2 of their own this weekend? Knowing Ochoa is looking to get double digits under par after 2 rounds makes it all the more difficult to do that.

Still, as Hound Dog points out, there are many big numbers out there at Bosque Real, along with the birdies and eagles. More on this theme soon.

[Update 1 (3/21/09, 11:20 pm): Never got a chance to update this post like I planned, and ESPN Deportes is being stingy with the 1st-round highlights this year. Instead of showing huge chunks of their coverage online, this time around they're only showing Ocha highlights so far.]

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