Lorena Ochoa staked her strongest claim yet to the world #1 ranking by overtaking Annika Sorenstam to win the Samsung World Championship. Ochoa’s round of 65 propelled her to a two-shot victory over the two-time defending tournament champion.
Three shots behind at the start of the day, Ochoa served notice immediately with a birdie at 1. Annika countered with birdies at 2 and 3, but Ochoa’s eagle on 3 kept her within two. Hole 5 brought the first big moment of the day, when Lorena birdied as Annika bogeyed to tie it up. Sorenstam rebounded with birdies on 7 and 9, regaining the two-shot advantage, but gave both shots back at 10 with a bogey as Ochoa birdied. Lorena birdied 11 to take the lead for the first time, and it stayed that way for awhile as both players parred 12 through 14.
The par-5 15th was where it got decided. Ochoa elected to lay up, almost daring Sorenstam to go for it. Annika probably could have reached the green (I believe she was about 205 yards away) but since her ball was in the first cut of rough, she chose to lay up also. This decision was second-guessed a bit by the commentators, but I agreed with Annika’s choice. Until she yanked her lay up shot left, giving her a tough angle and very little green to work with. Her third landed just short of the green and stopped immediately, giving her virtually no chance for birdie. Lorena dropped her third about 20 feet right of the hole and drained the putt. Annika’s fourth stopped about eight feet past the hole and when she missed the comebacker, she was three shots back with three holes to play. Sorenstam did birdie 16 to re-heighten the suspense a bit, but she couldn’t get any closer.
Sophie Gustafson finished third at -11 five shots behind, Stacy Prammanasudh was fourth at -9, and Paula Creamer came home in fifth at -7. After doing zilch all week, Juli Inkster tied Ochoa for round of the week with a 65 to end up tied for sixth. Hard to pick a Big Surprise from a field of this caliber but I’ll go with Sherri Steinhauer, who finished T8 after being pretty much AWOL since her British Open win. And again, I picked the wrong player to win as one of my CYAs wins instead. Cristie Kerr finished in the tie for sixth so all of my CYAs were in the Top 10.
Now we go to Asia for the next three weeks, starting in Thailand this Friday.