Notes Ochoa Concedes Another US Open

By Associated PressJune 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Lorena Ochoa lined up for an 8-foot birdie putt on her final hole of the day, hoping to conclude a miserable day on a high note.
 
The putt was a few inches short, a fitting end to what has been to what has been a long, difficult U.S. Womens Open for the worlds No. 1 player. Ochoa shot a 3-over 76 on Saturday and was 12 shots behind leader Stacy Lewis.
 
Even she knows its over.
 
Ive been struggling every day since the beginning and yeah, Im frustrated, Ochoa said. Its sad to see the tournament go and now I have to wait one more year.
 
Her chance to climb back into the picture ended almost before it began Saturday when Ochoa, who started on the 10th tee, bogeyed 11 and 12, then missed an uphill 8-footer for a double bogey on the par-5 13th.
 
I tried, but obviously the way I started didnt help, she said. I was four over after four holes. So it was just hard trying to come back all day and try to save pars. Just a really long round. I didnt enjoy it very much.
 
Its been a trying few months for the dominant Mexican who won six of her first nine tournaments of the year and headed into the McDonalds LPGA Championship thinking about the Grand Slam.
 
Ochoas uncle, Pedro, died of leukemia in May. Her maternal grandfather, Jorge Reyes, passed away during the LPGA and Ochoa didnt find out until after she missed the playoff by one stroke.
 
She has been carrying that weight with her ever since, and it may have caught up with her at Interlachen.
 
Im not going to blame my score on that. Not at all, Ochoa said. But mentally, Im a little bit weak. It seems that Ive just had nothing going this week and Im kind of frustrated and mad more than usual.
 
I guess its a learning experience. Ill try to finish it tomorrow and just be relaxed and continue my year.
 
But not before a much-needed break. After she finishes on Sunday, Ochoa will take the next two weeks off, returning to Guadalajara to relax, spend some time with her family and regroup.
 
Im just trying to be positive and finish tomorrow with another good round and then well see, Ochoa said. Then I can go home and relax and talk to my coach. I need to see things and put things in perspective and then well go from there.
 
PUTT-PUTTING ALONG:
In the final U.S. Womens Open of her career, Annika Sorenstam is getting tired of wasting superb ball-striking by failing on the greens.
 
The three-time champion needed another 32 putts to get through 18 holes on Saturday en route to a 1-under 72 and has putted 98 times in three rounds. She was seven strokes behind Lewis, but could be so much closer were it not for her struggles on the green.
 
Sorenstam missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 4 and a 5-footer on No. 6, but did roll in one from 20 feet to save par on No. 17.
 
Ive probably left a dozen, maybe two dozen (birdies), in three days, Sorenstam said. Im just very, very disappointed.
 
She may have found the solution to her putting problem on No. 9'just dont use the putter. Her second shot was far short of the green at the bottom of the steep hill leading up to the pin.
 
Sorenstam could only see the top of the flag from her position, then lofted a shot that landed high on the sloping green and rolled down into the cup, drawing a roar from the large gallery.
 
Im still in striking zone and Im not giving up hope yet, Sorenstam said. Maybe its just saving it and Ill make them all tomorrow.
 
REVENGE TIME?:
Helen Alfredsson knows a thing or two about losing the lead at the Open. Now shes hoping its her turn to come from behind and steal one.
 
The 43-year-old Swede shot a 2-under 71 on Saturday and trailed Lewis by two strokes heading into the final round.
 
Fifteen years ago, Alfredsson set a 36-hole scoring record and had a six-shot lead through seven holes of the third round before a stunning collapse. She played the next 11 holes at 8 over, shot 76-77 on the weekend and tied for ninth.
 
The year before, in 1993, she had a two-shot lead going into the last round and lost to Lauri Merten.
 
To be very honest, I dont really think so much about it, Alfredsson said. Ive been so close in this event and Ive been very high and very low.
 
A LOOK AT THE LEADERBOARD:
Ochoa wasnt the only big-name player to struggle on Saturday.
 
One day after saying she had the same feeling as when she won the Open at Pine Needles last year, defending champion Cristie Kerr shot a 3-over 75 and was seven strokes behind Lewis with one round to play.
 
First-day leader Pat Hurst continues to fade. After an opening-round 67, the 2006 runner-up has shot 78-77 the last two days and was 3 over for the tournament.
 
Two-time champion Karrie Webb needed an 8-foot birdie putt on 18 on Friday just to make the cut. She shot a 72 and was tied with Hurst at 3 over.
 
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Dale Lewis, Stacys father, was asked what the two had planned for Saturday night after Stacy Lewis shot a 67 to take a one-shot lead into the final day of her first professional tournament.
 
Were going to do the same thing weve been doing, he said. Ill snore and keep her up. Shell have the remote and Ill complain about the channel and what were watching on TV.
 
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