tampabay.com

Ochoa 18 holes from home win

By TIMES WIRES
Published October 8, 2006


MORELIA, Mexico - Lorena Ochoa moved closer to her first LPGA Tour victory in her homeland, shooting 5-under 68 on Saturday to maintain a three-stroke lead with one round left in the Corona Morelia Championship.

The 24-year-old from Guadalajara, seeking her fourth victory of the season, had a 16-under 203 total. She stayed consistent, hitting straight drives and safe approaches that kept her out of trouble on the hilly Tres Marias course.

"I don't like to think about being ahead or winning, or wanting to win," she said. "Obviously my dream is to win, and it could be a dream come true."

Paraguay's Julieta Granada (66) was second at 13 under. First-round leader Brandie Burton (67) was 9 under, and Christina Kim (65) and Young Jo (69) were another stroke back. Wendy Ward (71) and 18-year-old Morgan Pressel (71) were 7 under.

The third round didn't feature the same fireworks for Ochoa as Friday, when she shot a course-record 64 to move atop the leaderboard.

Still, she got aggressive at times, knocking a 7-iron from 177 yards then making the 10-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 10th. She also converted five birdies to offset a pair of bogeys.

"I've played a lot of tournaments in Mexico. ... I'm just looking at this as one more round," Ochoa said. "I think that mentally and strategically I'm in a better place and that makes me very relaxed."

Ochoa's success Friday swelled the crowds following her from hole to hole to more than 600 a day later. Every long putt she made was greeted by whoops and whistles, chants of "Let's Go, Lorena!" and even a couple of marriage proposals. Many fans wore red caps embroidered with Ochoa's "L" logo.

Ochoa was a nonfactor at last year's inaugural Corona Morelia Championship and at the LPGA Tour's MasterCard Classic played outside Mexico City in March 2005 and 2006. She faltered under pressure, seemingly pressing too hard to impress fans, who hung on her every swing.

"What happens on the 18th green (today) will be something extremely emotional," Ochoa said.

Ochoa said Granada would "stay aggressive with nothing to lose," but that she feels like she knows the Paraguayan well enough to anticipate how her round might go.

"She's my friend, but I'm going out wanting to beat her," she said. "(Today) is serious. It's golf, it's competition. Each one of us is going to do our jobs."

pga: Davis Love shot 4-under 68 in rainy, cool conditions on the course he redesigned to gain a share of the lead after the third round of the Chrysler Classic in Greensboro, N.C.

Love birdied the first two holes and the 18th to put himself into contention for his first PGA Tour win since 2003.

"I give myself a lot of chances, just unfortunately I haven't pulled it off enough in the past few years," he said.

Chris Couch had 69 to match Love at 10-under 206 on the Forest Oaks Country Club course. Chris Smith (69), Steve Flesch (69) and John Senden (71) were one back.

Second-round leader Nick Watney shot 74 to fall three off the lead.

champions: Tom Jenkins shot 6-under 66 in cool and misty conditions to take the lead at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C.

Jenkins had a 10-under 134 total on the Prestonwood Country Club course, one stroke better than money leader Loren Roberts and tour newcomer Chip Beck.

nationwide: Kevin Na shot 71 to see his lead shrink from six shots to one at the Mark Christopher Charity Classic in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Jeff Quinney shot 65 to move into second.

European PGA: Bradley Dredge shot 1-under 71 at Kingsbarns to maintain his lead after the third round of the Dunhill Links championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.

asian: Lin Wen-tang eagled his last hole to grab a two-shot lead over American Gary Rusnak at the Taiwan Open in Taipei.

usga: Ann Lahey shot 1-over 72 to lead after the first round of stroke play at the USGA Senior Women's Amateur Championship in St. Simons Island, Ga. Nancy Smith of North Port was second. The top 64 after today advance to match play.