Ochoa englufed by Asian players


Ricoh WomenSUNNINGDALE, England ' Lorena Ochoa came to the Womens British Open firmly established as the world No. 1 and strongly favored to retain the title she won last year at St. Andrews.
Instead, she was engulfed by the tide of Asian players who are threatening a takeover of the womens game. Ochoa tied for seventh, but the top five were Asians, led by the winner, Ji-Yai Shin of South Korea.
Thirteen of the leading 20 were from South Korea, Japan or Taiwan.
Theyre all coming. And its not stopping either, said Juli Inkster, who led after an opening round 7-under 65 but tailed off for a share of 14th.
Ochoa, who won four titles in succession on the LPGA this year, acknowledged that it going to take a lot of hard work ' even for her ' to stem the tide of top players coming out of Asia.
I think we all knew that there are so many and they are playing so well and consistently and working so hard, Ochoa said.
Now we can see that the Asian Tour is becoming very strong. The top players are coming to the States and they can also win in the States. Before it was a different story.
So the rest of us just need to prepare and continue working hard with so many more good players around.
Asian players have now won the last three majors.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan, runner up on Sunday, won the LPGA Championship in early June and even Annika Sorenstam predicted this week that she would not be surprised to see Tseng as the world No. 1 in a few years.
Inbee Park of Korea won the U.S. Open, although she was one of the few Asian disappointments this week as she failed to make the halfway cut.
The other Asians near the top of the leaderboard were Eun Hi Ji of South Korea and Japanese compatriots Yuri Fudoh at Ai Miyazato, who were third and fifth respectively.
Cristie Kerr was the first non-Asian in sixth place.
The South Koreans had for the first time this year the same number of players in the field, 31, as there were Americans.
Many of them have taken their inspiration from the first of their nationality, Se Ri Pak, to win the Womens British Open in 2001, also here at Sunningdale. She also won two majors in her rookie year in 1998.
Se Ri Pak, she was my hero because of watching golf, Shin said. Im watching her then and watching her now and shes still my hero.
Shin, meanwhile, may change her future playing plans in the light of this victory.
Her father, the guiding influence in her life since her mother died in a car crash in 2005, wanted her to play primarily in Japan next year. But she is leaning toward the LPGA now that she has an exemption for winning this title.
Maybe he will change his mind now, she said. I have not joined as a member but now with this win I can join the LPGA.
Shin played three U.S. events this year with a best finish of sixth in the U.S. Open.
She won three titles on the Korean Womens Tour this year after winning nine times in 2007.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Ricoh Women's British Open
  • Full Coverage - Ricoh Women's British Open