Sorenstam Ochoa Meet Again

RSS

2005 State Farm ClassicSPRINGFIELD, Ill. ' The last time Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa met, they staged a memorable duel.
 
Sorenstam won by one stroke before her home crowd in Sweden. Ochoa walked away from the TPC of Scandinavia in Stockholm with a jolt of confidence.
 
Back from a two-week break after winning on her home course, Sorenstam hopes to carry the momentum to the State Farm Classic at The Rail Golf Club. She'll be grouped with Ochoa and 2004 winner Cristie Kerr on Thursday and Friday. Defending champion Pat Hurst will tee off with Se Ri Pak and Hee-Won Han for the first two rounds.
 
Sorenstam is seeking her fourth victory during a year that has been 'a little up and down.'
 
'I've had some great moments, and then I've had some (disappointing) moments,' she said Wednesday. 'I struggled a little bit with my swing, my game overall, but I had a great victory in Sweden.'
 
She opened her season with a first-place showing at the MasterCard Classic in Huixquilucan, Mexico, but went nearly four months without a victory before beating Hurst in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open.
 
Sorenstam birdied the final hole for another dramatic win this month at Bro-Balsta in Stockholm, where she learned to play. It was a fitting ending, given the way she and Ochoa rewrote the course record book.
 
First, Sorenstam set the mark when she shot a 7-under 66 in the first round. The next day, Ochoa fired an 8-under. Sorenstam tied the new record in the final round.
 
After Ochoa eagled the 17th hole, a gallery of about 20,000 watched Sorenstam hit her approach shot within 6 feet of the 18th pin. She birdied and celebrated by jumping into a pond with her sister Charlotta.
 
'Talk about a dramatic finish, talk about excitement for the fans,' Sorenstam said. 'It was really a wonderful week.'
 
It also was an invaluable experience for the 24-year-old Ochoa.
 
'The galleries were getting crazy, but they were very nice to me, too,' Ochoa said. 'I think it was a good situation being paired together in the last two rounds and being so close.'
 
Here they are again, one of the greatest of all time and one who is trying to deliver on her promise.
 
'She's always had a good short game, always been pretty accurate,' Sorenstam said of Ochoa. 'But now, it seems like she makes more birdies and less mistakes. Maybe she's gotten more consistent. She is on a roll, that's for sure.'
 
Ochoa has an altered swing, a new caddie, and more confidence. She is coming off a record-setting performance at the Wendy's Championship for Children, where she shot a tournament-record 24-under 264. It was her third victory this season and the sixth of her career.
 
'I feel a lot more comfortable now,' said Ochoa, who leads the player of the year standings.
 
She shortened her backswing, which improved her control.
 
'She's a good player, and I think the more you win ... it does get easier because you don't have as much pressure on you because you know you've done it before,' Hurst said. 'Once she won, it's compounded. That's what it's doing here.'
 
Hurst is playing better, too.
 
Her three-stroke victory over Kerr at last year's State Farm was her first win since 2000. Now, Hurst is enjoying one of her best seasons.
 
The 1995 rookie of the year, Hurst has seven top-10 finishes and a victory at this month's Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. -- her fifth on the tour and first since last year's State Farm.
 
Hurst finally feels like the player she was in 1998, when she won her lone major -- the Nabisco Dinah Shore. Her son Jackson Jeffrey was born in June 1999, and daughter Reilly Ann arrived in January 2002. Along with some differences in her body, her game changed. She started hooking shots.
 
But now, she feels more like her old self.
 
'I think my body's returning back to the way it was before having kids,' Hurst said. 'I really hadn't worked on anything in particular this year that I hadn't worked on in the past.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - State Farm Classic
  • Full Coverage - State Farm Classic