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Lorena Ochoa seeks third straight defence

Lorena Ochoa will be aiming for her third successful title defense of the season Thursday when two million-dollar Wegmans LPGA begins at Locust Hill Country Club.

The world No.1 from Mexico has already repeated at the Safeway International and the Sybase Classic.

Now she will try to follow on from last year's victory here, when she defeated South Korean rookie In-Kyung Kim on the second extra hole to win her second Wegmans title in three years.

"This is a great place to be," Ochoa said. "I love the course and I have great memories."

Ochoa, 26, has more than 1.95 million dollars in earnings already this season, posting six wins in 10 starts.

She has the chance to become the fastest LPGA player to cross the two million-dollar mark in a season this week.

Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, who is making her first appearance at the Wegmans LPGA since 2004, when she tied for seventh, set the record that same year, topping two million dollars in her first 15 events.

Ochoa and Sorenstam, who will retire at the end of the year, most recently dueled at the McDonald's LPGA Championship two weeks ago.

But the star duo finished tied for third, one stroke behind 19-year-old champion Yani Tseng of Taiwan and Maria Hjorth, whom Tseng defeated at the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff.

Sorenstam has never won at the Wegmans LPGA, while rookie Tseng is making her first appearance at the event.

"I'm in very good shape," Tseng said. "I need to keep going with that thinking, with a mental game. I feel very, very confident and just play like it's Saturday and Sunday."

Also in the field is Michelle Wie, who has only played two LPGA tournaments this year due to a wrist injury.

She also made one appearance on the Ladies European Tour, finishing sixth at the German Open earlier this month.

"I feel a lot more confident with my game," Wie said. "I had a good two weeks. I felt like my game came along a lot better in Germany as well.

"I feel like I'm getting back on track. I see my improvements coming, so I'm very happy about that."

England's Laura Davies, who hasn't won on the LPGA Tour in America since her victory in this event seven years ago, and Karen Stupples are the leading British hopes this week.

Stupples, who will be 35 next week, has three top-10 finishes in her comeback season after the birth of her son, Logan, and is currently 12th on the LPGA money list.

The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the LPGA's season-ending ADT Championship.

 

June 19, 2008




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