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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2007 > LPGA > Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA > Round 4


Nicole Castrale beats Lorena Ochoa in playoff

Watch out for Ginn Tribute winner Nicole Castrale at next week's major, the McDonald's LPGA Championship.

And really watch out for world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa.

Ochoa let a two-shot lead slip away over the final two holes and handed Castrale her first LPGA Tour victory in a playoff Sunday.

The loss has made Ochoa even more focused on winning her first major title.

"No, no," when asked if her loss might discourage her at Bulle Rock Golf Course, where the championship begins Thursday.

"I think (I) really want to win next week," she said.

Ochoa, who has won twice already this year, looked like she was easily on her way to victory number three at RiverTowne Country Club, leading by as many as six shots late in Saturday's round.

But she was caught by Castrale, who closed with a 1-under 71 to match Ochoa (74) at 9-under 279.

Castrale, the former University of Southern California star, calmly made par after Ochoa drove her ball left in a marsh on the extra hole.

"To beat Lorena, yeah, the odds weren't on my side, for sure," Castrale said.

Castrale earned $390,000.

Despite Ochoa's large lead, Castrale never thought her breakthrough win was out of reach.

"I thought, 'Man, Lorena's playing great,' " Castrale said. "Never did I think I can't catch her. I knew I was playing well, too."

Castrale showed that Sunday.

Ochoa made bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes to drop her into a tie. Right before Ochoa's second straight bogey, Castrale rolled in a 15-foot birdie to catch the Mexican star.

Castrale, who watched Ochoa's bad drive, kept it simple and straight on the final hole. She two-putted from 25 feet for par, then waited until Ochoa's 18-foot try to extend the playoff slid left.

Castrale put her hand over her mouth then hugged her caddie, husband Craig, and Ochoa.

"I don't know what happened" on her final drive, Ochoa said. "I think I just got a little bit fast."

Castrale had never done better than a tie for third in last season's Honda LPGA Thailand event.

"I don't think this has fully sunk in yet," she said. "I've worked really hard the last couple of years and I've been close this year. This was my week, I guess."

The loss dropped Ochoa to 0-4 in playoffs. She said such moments like this teach her something she can't always get in victory. "I need to learn to win in the tough ones. For sure, I need to improve my playoff percentages," she said, laughing.

The swirling wind caused problems all round, players continually backing out of their stances to wait for the gusts to calm.

The final group finished play in just under six hours and NBC Sports couldn't stay with the playoff, switching coverage to the Golf Channel.

Cristie Kerr closed with a 73 to finish third at 6 under and Paula Creamer (71) and Sarah Lee (71) tied for fourth at 5 under.

For a second straight round, tournament officials altered the starting times to deal with the effects of tropical depression Barry. While players Saturday dealt with drenching rain, Sunday brought wind gusts close to 20 mph.

The competitors backed off shots to wait for the wind to calm. No one shot lower than Christina Kim's 70 on the par-72 layout.

Annika Sorenstam, the tournament's host, struggled to her highest round of the week, 4-over 76, and tied for 36th. She hadn't played in two months as she recovered from a ruptured disk and bulging disk.

"I'm trying to get into the swing of things and trying to stay very patient," she said. "It's going to take me four or five tournaments to be ready."

Sorenstam will continue her comeback at the McDonald's LPGA next week.



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