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Golf - 01. March 2008.

Lorena Streaks Ahead

Tim Maitland

Compared to her first round, she was far from flawless, yet the world number one Lorena Ochoa carded a better score and built a seven shot lead at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore.

On a day when low scores were at a premium at the Tanah Merah Country Club, Ochoa shot a seven-under-par 65 to move to 13 under for the US$2 million event.

Her closest rivals are the two winners on the LPGA so far this season: Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam together with Korea's In-Kyung Kim.

"It was a great day. I just got on a run," said the Mexican who had seven birdies in eight holes from the fourth to the 10th.

"It was great from the driver to my putting. I hit my second shots really close and gave myself a lot of birdie chances. It was one of those days I want to memorise and hopefully repeat."

While the rest of the field struggled with tougher pin positions and greens only fractionally softened by the overnight rain that struck the city centre, but all but skirted the golf course, Ochoa was dominant but not infallible.

Curiously her otherwise impeccable game deserted her briefly on the par five 13th hole. There, she yanked a driver out of bounds and baled out to the right when she went back to the tee. Lorena being Lorena, she still managed to hole a testing bogey putt to limit the damage. Afterwards she was at a loss to explain what happened other than that the first swing felt quick, but her rival and playing partner Creamer had no doubt about the significance.

"It was a great bogey. The recovery after that (tee shot) was huge. That's what saved her card. It could have been a disaster hole," the American declared. "Other than that she didn't make any mistakes. She never had to save par. She played great."

The Pink Panther shot a one-under-par round that after an opening-hole birdie had a one-step-forwards-one-step-back look to it.

"I did not play good. I never hit a solid shot all day. I never felt comfortable on the driving range and it started from there. I hit it so bad it was hard for me to feel like I was competing against her and the field. A lot of separation happened, but there are two days to play. It was just not my day," said Creamer, who three times paired birdies and bogies on successive holes. The only positive she could draw was that she never lost patience.

"The way that I played, tied for second place, six under par and I played horribly. Two years ago I would have gotten in my own way.

Annika meanwhile was executing a late charge to claim a share of second place. At one point 11 shots adrift of Ochoa, she narrowed the chasm by reeling off four birdies in the closing four holes to shoot onto the leaderboard with a bogey-free five-under-par 67.

"I played really well," she said.

"I just needed one good putt to kick start the great finish, but I was just very solid throughout the round."

In Kyung Kim had a roller coaster ride through a two-under-par 70 to share second place. An eagle and birdie either side of the turn were undone by a triple bogey on 13, and reclaimed by three birdies in the final four holes.

Among the others making a move were Stacey Prammanasudh, who moved into a tie for fifth with Karrie Web and Linda Wessberg.

A shot further back is Natalie Gulbis who, after opening with an even par 72, shot a 68 to go four under at the halfway point.

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