ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- If Lorena Ochoa has been saving her
first major for the home of golf, it gave her the ideal start.
The Mexican compiled a bogey-free 6-under 67 at St. Andrews in
calm, sunny conditions on Thursday to take a two-shot lead in the
Women's British Open. It was the first time the women pros had
played at the famous course and she came up with the best opening
"It was just a really good day, one of those days when things
are easy and really good. There was only a little bit of a breeze
and I took advantage of that and made some birdies.
"I had in my head 2 or 3 under so it's even better than I
Ochoa finished well before lunch and then sat back to see if any
of her rivals could catch up.
Sweden's Louise Friberg and South Korea's In-Bee Park are two
behind after 69s with Japan's Ai Miyazato and England's Rebecca
Hudson three off the lead after 70s. Annika Sorenstam had a 1-under
72 while Michelle Wie showed signs of straightening out her game
with an even-par 73.
The strong winds that often blow across this part of Scotland
took the day off and Ochoa took full advantage. The forecast for
Friday and Saturday includes winds of up to 35 mph.
"I believe in myself and I was feeling good in the morning,"
said Ochoa, who tied for second at the U.S. Women's Open a month
ago and finished second, third and fourth in other majors. "We are
all excited to be here and I'm just glad I did it right on my first
try and take as much advantage as you can and now I'm feeling good.
Many of the star names teed off early -- before 7 am local time --
for the benefit of live TV coverage in Asia and that suited Ochoa.
"It was a really early wakeup call but I don't mind that," she
said. "I'm a morning person. I don't know how the next three days
look and how the weather is going to be, but I'm happy I did it
By the time she walked off the 18th green, few players out on
the course were threatening her lead.
The 17-year-old Wie was two shots behind Ochoa until bogeys on
two of the final five holes.
"It was semi-disappointing and semi-successful," said Wie, who
is recovering from an injured left wrist and has failed to break 70
in more than a year.
"It's the first time I've played really solidly, but I missed
some reasonably easy putts. I'm starting to see a light at the end
of the tunnel now."
In perfect weather at St. Andrews, Ochoa birdied three straight
holes and stretched her lead to three shots when her long approach
to the 15th settled 2 feet from the pin.
That was her fifth birdie, and another followed at the 17th, the
usually tough Road Hole which has been made a par 5 for the Women's
Open and became the easiest to score under par.
Ochoa's second shot finished at the back of the green and her
first putt left her with a 5-footer for birdie. After Miyazato
bogeyed the 16th, Ochoa walked onto the 18th green four ahead of
the field, then narrowly missed a 15-foot birdie on the final hole.
After winning her first title at the Evian Masters on Sunday,
Natalie Gulbis didn't expect to be five behind at the turn. Without
a birdie on the front nine, the American was 1 over after her bogey
5 at the second and went on for par 73, along with Paula Creamer.
U.S. Women's Open champion Cristie Kerr struggled to a 77,
beginning her round with two bogeys.
"I've been putting way too much pressure on myself since the
Open and it has backfired on me," she said. "I'm pushing it way
Another major winner Morgan Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco,
had even more problems. She finished at 80, which included nine
Defending champion Sherri Steinhauer, who is going for her
fourth title in this tournament, had a 72.