Guadalajara is in Mexico. It is the place where the 24-year-old Ochoa was born and raised. They are doing the hat dance there because Ochoa looked Annika Sorenstam in the eye Sunday at the Samsung World Championship in California.
And Sorenstam, the No. 1 player in the world, blinked.
Playing together in the final pairing, Ochoa carded a near-flawless 65. Sorenstam struggled to a 70 that included three bogeys. Ochoa turned a three-shot 54-hole deficit into a two-shot victory, all the while looking like she belonged; and all the while looking quite comfortable in the heat of competition.
My goal is to be the No. 1 player, Ochoa said afterward without a trace of conceit. I thinks going to happen. I think they know, too.
Ochoa is still No. 2 behind the 36-year-old Sorenstam in the world rankings. But she now has five wins in 2006 and several legs up in the race for the LPGA money title and the Rolex Player of the Year. Sunday was her second victory in as many weeks, the previous one coming in her native Mexico.
Sorenstam will not go away any time soon. This may even make her better. But the Los Angeles Times quoted her, in its Monday editions, as saying, It doesnt get any worse than this.
Times writer Thomas Bonk wrote Ochoas victory signaled a changing of the guard.
Isnt it interesting, in a year when most of the early publicity went to the American young guns of Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie'none of whom have won yet on the LPGA in 2006'that the womens tour now has a Big Two.
That would be Sorenstam and Ochoa.
And by the way, isnt it high time to re-examine the need for a meaningful Cup competition that allows players like Ochoa and Australias Karrie Webb and all the talented Korean women to show their skills on a big stage?
Theres nothing wrong with the Solheim Cup (Europe vs. America). But womens golf needs its own version of the Presidents Cup. There are too many good players, outside of Europe and the United States, to ignore this potential showcase.
It wasnt that long ago that Lorena Ochoa was desperately fighting an inability to close the deal on Sunday. She appears to have fought through that problem.
Next up for the pride of Guadalajara is the winning of a major championship. Currently she has zero of those. Most people, this reporter included, will be surprised if she doesnt break through in that category before the end of next year.
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