Ochoa, who won here last year by 11 strokes, will take on 34 of the 40 top-ranked players in the 78-woman field, including Americans Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford, Cristie Kerr, and Natalie Gulbis at the par-72, 6,547-yard Tanah Merah Country Club course.
Ochoa is also eyeing a group of young Asian stars, including world No. 2 Yani Tseng of Taiwan, after winning her 25th career title at last weeks Honda LPGA Thailand.
Its great that now theres a whole new generation of players to challenge me, said Ochoa, a 27-year-old from Mexico. All of them are very young, and theyre not afraid.
Ochoa started moderately last week in Thailand but improved to record a three-stroke victory over South Koreas Hee Young Park. Creamer led by three strokes entering the final round, but shot a 73 to finish third, four strokes back.
Tseng, who at 19 years old last year was the youngest player to win the LPGA Championship, said she plans to get off to a fast start in Thursdays opening round in her bid to knock Ochoa from her perch atop the rankings.
My goal this year is to be world No. 1 , Tseng said. I will be looking for a great start with a lot of birdies.
Tseng joins a slew of young Korean stars ' 17 of the top 50 players are from South Korea ' who have begun to make a name for themselves in a womens golf scene in transition after the retirement of Swedens Annika Sorenstam and the fading of other experienced stars.
Until recently things were being dominated by a few more experienced players, said fourth-ranked Suzann Pettersen of Norway. Suddenly these girls have come in and shaken up the mix at the top of womens golf.
Local fans will be cheering on 15-year-old Joey Poh, who qualified by winning an amateur tournament last month.