Ochoa Remains Out Front at St Andrews

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Ricoh WomenST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Lorena Ochoa's missed putt at the 18th took the fun out of another big step toward her first major. Michelle Wie's missed cut suggested she's still a long way from her first victory.
 
Ochoa missed a 4-footer on the final hole to give her an even-par 73 and a one-stroke lead at St. Andrews in the Women's British Open, Wie was preparing another early flight home. She shot an 80 for a 7-over score of 153 that missed the cut by two.
 
'It's a disappointment because I didn't play as well as I wanted to,' said Wie, who has struggled with a left wrist injury.
 
'I do feel a lot stronger. I'm hitting a lot of shots that I've never really hit before so that's a positive. I just need to take the positives and go on from there. I'm starting to feel really good about it. Obviously today was not my day, but I'll do better.'
 
Missing the cut on the first women's pro event to be played at the home of golf is another blow for the 17-year-old.
 
She had to sidestep the Kraft Nabisco because of injury, finished last at the LPGA Championship, and pulled out after playing only nine holes of the second round of the U.S. Women's Open after shooting 82 in the first. Last week, she tied for 69th at the Evian Masters.
 
At St. Andrews, she had already dropped four shots by the time she took a triple bogey seven at the par-4 13th, taking five to get the ball within 12 feet of the flag and missing the putt. That was followed by another bogey. Her only birdie came at the last hole.
 
'The whole year I've been struggling with her driver and I just never got the ball on the fairway,' said Wie, whose opening round 73 had given her hope that her troubles were over.
 
'Today I felt that my driver was really solid. Obviously my irons weren't good so I just have too keep it together. It's like a puzzle. I'm just getting one bit at time.'
 
Ochoa, meanwhile, is creeping up on her first major.
 
She went to the 18th with a two-shot lead and faced a 25-foot putt for birdie. Instead of walking off three ahead of the field, the advantage slipped to one as her first putt, hit too strongly, curled 4 feet past and then she missed that to wind up with a bogey.
 
She also missed a putt for eagle at 14 but her 6-under 140 put her one ahead of Wendy Ward (70) and Catriona Matthew (68).
 
'It was a good day. I'm pleased with my round,' said the Mexican, who has had several near misses in previous majors. 'I'm upset about the three-putt on 18 but I'm just glad I still have the lead.
 
'I'm very pleased the way we worked the strategy with my caddie. I think we are in good shape and we understand pretty good the golf course and hopefully we can keep doing the same thing for a couple more days.'
 
Ward made five birdies in her round, but also missed a 4-foot putt at the last.
 
'I didn't care to finish that way,' Ward said. 'But I'm still pleased with the day.'
 
Matthew, who has had eight top 10 finishes in majors, is the leading Scot in the field and her bogey-free 68 caught the attention of the local fans.
 
'Hopefully it will inspire me,' she said. 'Obviously it's great today finishing those last few holes and there's still some big crowds out there cheering me on.
 
'Nice to get some support. When you play in the States all the time, I don't get the same sort of support.'
 
Defending champion Sherri Steinhauer, who has won this event three times, improved to 3 under after a 71 gave her a second-round score of 143 and a tie for fourth.
 
She picked up two shots on the outward nine, including a 50-foot birdie putt at the sixth.
 
'It was very calm on the outward holes and not very difficult,' Steinhauer said. 'I wish I could have taken a little more advantage.'
 
Annika Sorenstam, who won the 2003 Women's British Open at Royal Lytham for one of her 10 majors, also improved to 3 under after a 71 that included four birdies.
 
'I thought I hit the ball beautifully today and had a lot of chances,' she said. 'Those two would have been nice, but otherwise I was playing to my game plan.'
 
Juli Inkster moved into contention for the only major she hasn't won with a 5-under 68. Inkster, who won her first two majors as a rookie in 1984 and is now chasing her eighth, improved 11 shots over her 79 in the first round and was at 1-over 147 going into the weekend.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Ricoh Women's British Open