Pettersen Ochoa Set for Showdown


2006 Longs Drugs ChallengeDANVILLE, California -- Nothing like a perfect chip from 35 yards for a second eagle to provide some momentum heading into the back nine.
Suzann Pettersen made the shot of the day on what turned out to be a dramatic ninth hole for a twosome also featuring world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, finishing with a season-best 8-under 64 Saturday for the lead in the Longs Drugs Challenge.
'It's nice,' Pettersen said. 'I finally chipped in. It's been a while. It's about time. ... This is where I want to be. It's what you practice for, what you grind for.'
Pettersen, the 26-year-old Norwegian who won the Michelob Ultra Open in May for her first LPGA Tour title and took the McDonald's LPGA Championship in June for her first major victory, had a 12-under 204 total for a one-stroke lead over Canadian Lorie Kane (67). Ochoa (67) was another stroke behind at 10 under.
'All the butterflies were flying in sequence,' Kane said.
Pettersen matched the tournament record, last set by Jeong Jang in the first round in 2006. After an opening 75, Pettersen had a 65 on Friday and added the 64 Saturday for the lowest two-round stretch in the event's 12-year history (129).
'Golf is a weird game,' Pettersen said, grinning.
Juli Inkster's 71 got her to 5 under and defending champion Karrie Webb (74) was one stroke behind Inkster to round out the top five on the leaderboard after the late groups were held up about 40 minutes on the 16th tee. The slow play made for 5-hour rounds.
'It's hard to keep the flow going,' said Pettersen, who seemed to keep her focus just fine.
She's been chasing Ochoa on every major LPGA Tour list: wins, money, player of the year. Not this weekend.
'It's been a great year for both of us,' Ochoa said.
Ochoa went for it in the third round, just as she planned for what she describes as 'moving day' in the third round. That strategy sure has been working well recently for the 25-year-old star from Mexico, and she is trying for a fourth LPGA Tour victory in her last five events.
She played an interesting ninth in which her approach shot hooked left into some flowers just below a member tent along the green. Pettersen's eagle drew roars from the large gallery and she waved and tossed her ball to a young boy before grabbing a snack while she waited on Ochoa. It took Ochoa about 10 minutes, a trip beneath the tent and a call to an official before her drop was determined, with help from the fans sitting only a few feet above.
'Andale!' -- the Spanish phrase for hurry up -- hollered one person anxious for play to resume.
'That (shot) got me a little upset, and Suzann made that chip -- perfect,' Ochoa said. 'It's much better seeing that on Saturday than Sunday.'
She chipped to about 10 feet of the pin only to miss her birdie putt and then save par. Ochoa waved to those same fans in the tent before heading out for the final nine on a spectacular fall day in this upscale gated community in the East Bay suburb of San Francisco.
The black cows that graze near some of the final holes were calm, but two deer hung out at the 18th tee late in the day on the hilly Lakeside Course at Blackhawk Country Club.
Kane's short putt for birdie and a share of the lead on No. 16 skidded around the edge of the cup, and she had to settle for saving par. Kane and Ochoa each birdied No. 18.
Ochoa wasted no time grabbing the day's early lead when she birdied her first three holes and four of the first five, but she had two bogeys on the back nine and looked discouraged at times on a day after she said she had 'nothing going.'
'First of all, you don't expect anything less from Lorena,' Pettersen said of her opponent's fast start. 'Today, it felt like she pushed me, which is nice. When you get paired with good friends and good players, you can push each other.'
Ochoa committed herself to being more aggressive, and followed through beautifully from her first tee shot that landed in a bunker. She hit her approach shot out of the sand trap and within 10 feet of the hole, examined the green from several angles before calmly sinking the birdie putt.
'It was a really good day, especially at the start,' Ochoa said. 'The first three holes, three birdies. I thought it was going to be a really low round. ... I'm feeling good, in a good position and I can't wait to get to tomorrow.'
That birdie tied her for the lead, and Ochoa pumped her fist -- with a crowd of supporters from her native Mexico cheering her the whole way for the third straight day.
'Lorena!' one man yelled after her successful third hole.
'Lorena started really hot,' said Pettersen, only the sixth player this season to make two eagles in a round after also getting one on No. 5. 'This course sets up for eagles.'
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.