Stanford had a one-shot lead through 36 holes of the LPGA Tour tournament Friday under bright sunshine with the temperature in the mid 80s in the imposing shadow of the stark Superstition Mountains, some 40 miles east of Phoenix.
Stanford followed her course record and career-best 10-under 62 on Thursday with a scrambling 3-under 69 on Friday for a 13-under 131 total.
Ochoa, the events defending champion and worlds top-ranked female golfer, was one back at 12 under. She began the day three strokes back and shot a steady 67.
Jee Young Lee was three back at 10 under, while Annika Sorenstam shot a 67 to join Michele Redman (68) at 8 under, five off the lead on the 6,662-yard course at the Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
With the crowd behind her and the surroundings familiar, Mexicos Ochoa felt at home on this desert course.
I just love being here, she said. For sure we only play once a year in a desert golf course. And I just feel comfortable. It feels good, and it brings me good memories. I love Arizona, and I want to take advantage of that only one opportunity.
Ochoa attended the University of Arizona, and she is concerned that Safeway is ending its sponsorship of the LPGA Tours lone Arizona event after this year to concentrate its efforts on the tournament it holds in Portland, Ore. The LPGA Tour left Tucson in 2004.
If there is anything I can do to help have a sponsor next year, let me know, Ochoa said. And not only me, but all of the players as a group. I think we would all love to be back.
Stanford was pleased that she didnt falter too much after her big first round.
After shooting, well, a career round for me, you really dont know what to expect the next day, she said. So I really tried to keep the same mind-set and give myself chances and just roll my putts.
A winner once in seven years on the tour, Stanford took up where she left off with birdies on her first three holes Friday to go to 13 under. But, playing the back nine first, she had bogeys on a three par-5s'the 16th, 18th and second'to fall to 10 under.
Stanford rallied with birdies on the third, fifth and seventh to get back to 13 under. She had 12 top-10 finishes in 24 tournaments last year, with her best a tie for third at the MasterCard Classic.
I think Im just getting warmed up, she said. I put myself in the late bloomer category.
She will be paired with Ochoa in Saturdays third round.
Angela is very competitive, Ochoa said. Shes very good in basketball or bowling or whatever. She always tries to beat me.
Stanford wins a lot, Ochoa said. Just not in golf, where Ochoa is an 18-time LPGA Tour winner, including this years HSBC Championship in Singapore. She won eight times last year.
Ochoa has no aversion to a bit of conversation with her friend during their round together.
You could be friendly and at the same time make birdies, she said. You dont have to hate the opponent.