Date: August 03, 2007

Mexican makes waves

On the day that women&aposs professional golf finally came to St Andrews it was only fitting that world No.1 Lorena Ochoa took pride of place for virtually the entire 15 hours of play. The 25-year-old Mexican began the Ricoh Women&aposs British Open – the event she hopes will bring her first major title – with a superb six-under-par 67 after teeing off just after 7am. Australia&aposs leading contender is Joanne Mills, who fired a two-under 71 to be on level pegging with American Brittany Lincicome, while Nikki Garrett is one-over. Ochoa, who has taken over from Annika Sorenstam at the top of the rankings this year, could not hide her delight after taking a two-stroke lead over Swede Louise Friberg and South Korean In-Bee Park. “I love my start,” she said. “We are already making history just by being here and on the first day we are trying to enjoy it as much as we can and always have a smile on your face.” It was not difficult for her. The early starters had easily the best of the conditions and Ochoa made hay before the wind picked up strength. She went to the turn in 33, then pitched to three feet on the 10th, hit an eight-iron even closer at the 15th and two-putted the Road Hole 17th, which for the ladies plays as a 453-yard par five. “It was a really early wake-up call (5am), but I don&apost mind that. I was really glad that I took advantage of the nice conditions and now I&aposm in a good position,” she said. Loser of a play-off to Australian Karrie Webb at last year&aposs Kraft Nabisco and runner-up again to American Cristie Kerr at the US Women&aposs Open a month ago, Ochoa rated the 67 her best round of the season so far. Michelle Wie, playing two groups behind, looked as if she might be saying the same when she put her troubles behind her to reach three-under after 10. But the 17-year-old Hawaiian, who incredibly given her profile has not broken 70 for over a year, bogeyed the 11th, 14th and 16th and by three-putting for par on the 17th had to settle for a level-par 73. Recovering as she still is from a broken wrist that kept her out of action for nearly five months, Wie still saw plenty of positives, however. “A couple of shots stung a little, but I was playing really well and there was no lasting pain,” she said. “I had a couple of bad bounces and luck has a lot to do on this course. I think I&aposm pretty close – I feel like my wrist is getting stronger and stronger and it&aposs hurting less and less.” “I just have to keep my head on and be patient.” Sorenstam was perfectly happy with her one-under 72 in the afternoon – and having been sent a &aposgood luck&apos text message by Tiger Woods she profited from some on the final hole. The Swede, using the same yardage book that Woods had in his pocket as he won the 2000 and 2005 Open Championships, followed her birdie on the 17th with a drive that landed on Grannie Clarks Wynd crossing the fairway. The ball bounded into the Valley of Sin just short of the green over 300 yards away and from there Sorenstam two-putted for another birdie. Asked if it was a deliberate attempt to hit the road she smiled and said: “Oh yeah. I&aposm very, very thrilled – I thought I played really, really well. I&aposm excited. So far so good.” England&aposs Rebecca Hudson and Japanese ace Ai Miyazato both posted 70s, Miyazato coming back from a double-bogey seven on the fifth with five birdies, while defending champion Sherri Steinhauer matched Sorenstam&aposs 72. Former winner Laura Davies, whose first shot on the Old Course on Tuesday was a drive that missed the widest fairway in golf and went out of bounds, avoided a repeat of that, but still managed only a 79. Eighteen-year-old American Morgan Pressel, who won her first major this year, had one worse than that, though, and world No.2 Webb signed for a 77. With rounds taking in excess of six hours it was late in the evening when Park threatened to take over at the top by having four successive birdies from the ninth. That put her alongside Friberg, but Park then parred the last six holes to remain two behind Ochoa. Leading first round results from the Ricoh Women&aposs British Open (par 73) -6: Lorena Ochoa (Mexico) 67 -4: Louise Friberg (Sweden) 69 -3: Ai Miyazato (Japan) 70, Rebecca Hudson (England) 70 -2: Brittany Lincicome (USA) 71, Joanne Mills (Australia) 71 -1: Tullia Calzavara (Italy) 72, Karine Icher (France) 72, Na On Min (Korea) 72, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (France) 72, Sarah Lee (Korea) 72, Jee Young Lee (Korea) 72 E: Beth Bader (USA) 73, Paula Creamer (USA) 73, Momoko Ueda (Japan) 73, Se Ri Pak (Korea) 73, Natalie Gulbis (USA) 73, Michelle Wie (USA) 73, Catriona Matthew (England) 73, Melissa Reid (England) 73, Nicole Castrale (USA) 73, Reilley Rankin (USA) 73, Martina Eberl (Germany) 73, Lisa Hall (England) 73, Young Kim (Korea) 73 +1: Nikki Garrett (Australia) 74, Hye Yong Choi (Korea) 74, Beth Daniel (USA) 74, Suzann Petersen (Norway) 74, Becky Brewerton (England) 74, Stacy Prammanasudh (USA) 74, Naomi Edwards (England) 74, Moira Dunn (England) 74, Gloria Park (Korea) 74, Diana D&aposAlessio (USA) 74 +2: Karen Stupples (England) 75, Grace Park (Korea) 75, Carri Wood (USA) 75, Michele Redman (USA) 75, Stephanie Louden (USA) 75, Giulia Sergas (Italy) 75, Christina Kim (USA) 75, Belen Mozo (Spain) 75, Brittany Laing (USA) 75, Charlotte Mayorkas (USA) 75, Anja Monke (Germany) 75 +3: Dina Ammaccapane (USA) 76, Jeong Jang (Korea) 76, Lorie Kane (Canada) 76, Jin Joo Hong (Korea) 76, Paula Marti (Spain) 76, Seon Hwa Lee (Korea) 76, Beatriz Recari (Spain) 76, Anna Nordqvist (Sweden) 76 +4: Karrie Webb (Australia) 77, Rachel Bell (England) 77, Sakura Yokomine (Japan) 77, Christie Kerr (USA) 77, Shiho Oyama (Japan) 77, Pat Hurst (USA) 77, Bettina Hauert (Germany) 77 +5: Julieta Granada (Paraguay) 78, Helen Alfredsson (Sweden) 78, Ludivine Kreutz (France) 78 +6: Nina Reis (Sweden) 79, Louise Stahle (Sweden) 79, Teresa Lu (Tai) 79, Samantha Head (England) 79, Becky Morgan (England) 79, Carin Koch (Sweden) 79 +7: Il Mi Chung (Korea) 80, Sophie Giquel (France) 80 +8: Marcy Hart (USA) 81