(Evian-les-Bains, France – Thursday 24th July 2008) – World No.1 Lorena Ochoa posted a flawless seven-under-par 65 to lead by one stroke after the first round of the Evian Masters in France.
The 26-year-old from Mexico, who took over from Annika Sorenstam as the World No.1 15 months ago, posted seven birdies in total, with six on the back nine.
Gunning for her seventh victory this season and her first Evian Masters, she said: “I'm just glad I'm at the top, you know. It was a few players behind, but I'd like to stay there and continue that.
“I had a slow start. I made birdie on the first hole and didn't give myself a lot of birdie chances. Then on the back, I had a break on 10 and 11.&n bsp; I got a really good confidence, and started feeling good over the ball and the putting. And I finished making six birdies on the back, so I have no complaints. I'm really happy. I didn't make birdie on the last hole, but I made a long putt today, so it's fine.”
Ochoa returned to competitive action for the event after a three week break and said she was feeling rejuvenated ahead of her defence of next week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, the final major championship of the season, to be played at Sunningdale.
“You know, I have my goal for the second part of the season. I'm very motivated to continue playing good, and I'm glad I got a good start today. I would like to go in that direction,” she added.=2 0
Ochoa was third in last year’s Evian Masters, won by Natalie Gulbis, and was feeling confident that she could win her 24thcareer title.
“I did lose a few times here. I think it's all about how do you feel on the course. And this is a course I feel very comfortable,” said Ochoa. “I feel a lot of support from the fans, and I'm ready to do it. I'm ready any time. Hopefully, this is my time.”
South Korea’s Sun Ju Ah n, Brazilian Angela Park and Taiwan’s Candie Kung shared second on six-under-par 66, one shot behind the leader. Ahn competes on the Korean LPGA Tour, where she has won four tournaments, and she finished joint sixth alongside Annika Sorenstam in the tournament last year.
“Today the putting was good and I hit some great iron shots,” said the 21-year-old from Seoul. “This course is very long with wide fairways, which is good. I like long courses.” Kung has won three times on the US LPGA Tour, while Park is yet to win as a professional.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, South Korea’s Meena Lee and the United States trio of Laura Diaz, Angela Stanford and Juli Inkster, who won the event in 2003, finished tied for fifth place on five-under 67.
Diaz, a two-time tournament winner on the LPGA Tour, was delighted with her performance as she was injured earlier this year when her two-year-old son Robert Cooper kicked her in the right rib.
“This is following an injury from my son so I’m just very happy to be here,” said the four-time Solheim Cup player, who resides in Florida. “I didn’t hit it very close but I made a lot of long putts.”
South Korean teenager Amy Yang, who recently won the HypoVereinsbank Ladies German Open, presented by Audi, tied for 10th place on four-under with compatriots Young Kim and In-Kyung Kim.
For World No.2 and 10-time major winner Sorenstam, her final Evian Masters didn’t get off to the start for which she had hoped. She reached three-under after 14 holes but had to settle for a 71 and a share of 30th after bogeys on holes 15 and 16.
“I wish I would have had a little better round today,” said Sorenstam, who has won three tournaments this year. “I had a few chances up there, got off to a very good start, felt very good about everything and then wasn’t able to close.
“The hardest thing was controlling my approach shots. I had a lot of shots in and three that just didn’t release. I had three that released, and I don’t know where they came from. So it varied, and it’s hard to play that way.
“Today I left a few out there. Tomorrow, obviously I can’t do that. I have to capitalise on every single shot tomorrow; make up some ground.”