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Ochoa looks to add Kingsmill title to her impressive resume
Her numbers are mind-boggling, but there's one she hasn't put up at Kingsmill: 1.
Lorena Ochoa, the three-time Rolex Player of the Year who's won 17 tournaments since 2007, has come oh-so-close to adding the Michelob Ultra Open to her list of conquests. She has tied for second in three of her six appearances.
But despite a big, booming game (Ochoa's 271-yard driving average is fifth on the LPGA Tour) that sets up well for the 6,315-yard River Course, the world's top golfer has yet to be the last woman standing on Mother's Day.
"I always play to win, every tournament. It doesn't matter where I am," said Ochoa, who's won twice this season to push her career victory total to 26 and her career earnings north of $13 million. "Here's been close a couple of years, and I'm just hoping this is my time.
"... I just know it's a course that suits my game. It's a course that I like, and I'm going to try to remember that and be positive out there and do my best. It would be great to be there on Sunday."
Ochoa likely will tee off amid showers in this morning's opening round on an already soggy course that didn't give up many red numbers during her Wednesday pro-am round.
"Hopefully, I'm saving all those birdies for the tournament," Ochoa joked.
If so, the rest of the field had better watch out.
"If you're one of the players in contention against a player like Lorena, and she's on the leaderboard as well, you're going to have to play your very best golf to win," said 2006 Mich Ultra Open champion Karrie Webb. "I think anyone would love that challenge, and then it's very satisfying if you do win. ... It's always very satisfying to win a tournament out here, but it's even more special if you do it against the best player in the world."
Webb, whose win in Phoenix on March 29 gave her career victory No. 36, knows a thing or two about domination. She, Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam are the only golfers in LPGA history to bank more than $2 million in one season (Webb did it in 2006). But Ochoa, who's already met the point qualification needed for LPGA and World golf hall of fame memberships in less than six pro seasons, is threatening to take that concept to a whole other level.
In 2008, Ochoa needed just five tournaments to top $1 million in winnings, and was the fastest ever to $12 million, needing just 133 events in five years, two months and five days to reach that plateau. She's won $525,886 at Kingsmill alone.
"I don't know many courses that aren't suited to Lorena's game, but definitely this course, and especially this week," Webb said. "The course is going to play very long, and she's one of the longest players out here. She's also a great iron player and hits the ball very high and hits lots of greens. So if she gets her putting going, I think, like any other week, she's got a good chance to win."
Ochoa is coming off a victory in the Corona Championship on April 26 and also won March 1 in Thailand. Long-term, she wants to win more tournaments, especially majors. Short-term, she's focused on attacking the River Course's par 5's.
If she can put up a low number in the first round, it's likely a Tiger Woods-like unease would begin spreading amongst her competitors — even if she won't admit it.
"I cannot answer that," Ochoa said. "You would have to ask other players. I'm really happy and proud to be the No. 1 player right now, and I'm trying to do my best."
Ochoa's best is almost unbeatable.