She did it! Lorena Ochoa won the Ricoh Women’s British Open, earning her first major championship at the world’s most famous and oldest course, the Old Course at St. Andrews. Maria Hjorth and Jee Young Lee finished tied for second four shots behind.
Starting the day six strokes in front, Lorena was never pushed. Three birdies and a bogey on the front nine put her at -8. She bogeyed 11 when a four-footer for par lipped out. Playing alongside Ochoa, Linda Wessberg had gotten to -3 but she also bogeyed 11 to remain five shots back. That was as close as anyone would get. The wheels came off for Wessberg when she flew her tee shot at 14 out-of-bounds to the right, over one of those famous stone walls. She took double-bogey there, and bogeys at 15 and 16 doomed her to finish tied for seventh.
The conditions were rainy and cold, but fortunately minus the high winds. Scoring was much better (by about four shots on average) but no one who started the day within 6-7 shots could make a run. I won’t hedge here – Ochoa could have been taken if somebody had been able to put on some pressure. She bogeyed 15 after missing a six-footer and at 17 made a tactical mistake when she went for the green in two and came up 50 yards short into a bunker. Forced to punch it out somewhat sideways, her fourth had to come from some thick grass at least 40 yards from the pin. Lorena chopped it out of there and the ball rolled up onto the green, stopping about 15 feet away. She two-putted from there, but disaster was averted and she went to 18 up by four. No problems there, and Ochoa made a two-footer to silence what few critics she has left. I hope.
Jelly, Hjorth and Reilley Rankin all posted 71 to move up on the final day. Rankin finished alone in fourth at even par. Se Ri Pak and Eun-Hee Ji tied for fifth at +1 with their rounds of 72. Only two players broke 70 and they both did it with ease. Miki Saiki’s 67 (14 better than Saturday) put her in a tie for seventh at +2 and Mhairi McKay’s 67 tied her for eleventh at +3. Annika Sorenstam and Karine Icher struggled with 76s and fell to T16. Since Ji has never had a Top 10 before and Saiki is playing her first professional season in the JLPGA, they share this week’s Big Surprise Award. There are lots of Big Disappointment candidates. Jeong Jang and Mi Hyun Kim both missed the cut so I’ll let them share that one. More stuff tomorrow.