Lorena Ochoa takes over lead
Lorena Ochoa and Stacy Prammanasudh will be dueling for a tournament win on a Sunday -- just like old times.
Ochoa, seeking her fourth consecutive win, shot a 3-under-par 69 and overtook Prammanasudh on the last hole Saturday to take a one-stroke lead into the final day of the Navistar LPGA Classic.
The pair competed against each other in junior golf and college, Ochoa at Arizona and Prammanasudh at Tulsa, making this scenario seem awfully familiar to Ochoa. And not just because the Mexican is in the front-runner position again.
"It seemed like we were paired every Sunday round in the last group," said Ochoa, who has returned strong after taking a four-week break. "That makes the day even more special."
Saturday's round took a big twist on the final hole.
Prammanasudh, who carried a three-stroke lead into the day, three-putted for bogey on the 18th hole. She overshot the hole on the 12-foot downhill birdie putt, starting the trouble and shot a 73 -- 10 strokes worse than her opening round.
"I was not trying to make it," Prammanasudh said. "I did not think I hit it that hard. That was a misjudgment, I guess."
Ochoa had few such misjudgments in moving to 13-under with a bogey-free round and a second straight strong finish on Capitol Hill's Senator Course. She had birdied the final three holes to help cut a six-stroke deficit in half on Friday, and added two more on 12 and 15.
She has been hard to catch on Sundays. Ochoa entered the final day with the lead in five of her six victories this year.
"I'm going to try to build momentum," she said. "I trust myself, I have faith and know I can win the tournament. I'd like to be on the 18th green with the trophy."
That would put her in select company. Only Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam have won four in a row on the LPGA Tour, but Ochoa said she didn't want to focus too much on that milestone heading into Sunday.
"It's not good to think too much ahead of what could happen if I win," she said. "I'm just going to come out here with the same routine I always do. "
But, she added, "I really want to win."
Ochoa tied it up with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole, completing a two-stroke, two-hole turnaround. Prammanasudh hit her tee shot into the rough just above a bunker and two-putted for bogey on No. 14.
Both parred the next two holes before Ochoa grabbed the lead.
"She is No. 1 in the world for a reason," Prammanasudh said. "She is a great player but at the same time she hasn't won them all. We both have an equal shot of winning out there."
Ochoa nearly took the lead on 16 but her birdie putt lipped out. She parred the first seven holes, one fewer than her string of eight to open Friday's round.
Her final-day strategy: "I'm going to try to make a couple of birdies before hole No. 8. That would be the best scenario for me," Ochoa said.
Lindsey Wright opened the day four strokes off the lead and playing in the lead group but quickly fell back and shot a 75.
Maria Hjorth and Virada Nirapathpongporn both finished the day with 70s and are four strokes back. Angela Stanford's 65 put her within five strokes of Ochoa.
With the big gap from the rest of the pack, it might seem like a match-play scenario between Ochoa and Prammanasudh. But Ochoa doesn't want to approach it that way.
"I don't want to feel like it's a match play because then you get too involved in the other players," she said. "You know, if she misses, then you're fine. And if she makes par, then you're fine with par.
"I think that is the wrong way to play the tournament. I'm trying to play my own game and be aggressive. I want to make a lot of birdies."