Ochoa snatches two-stroke lead, Siew Ai stumbles to a 72

SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN (Arizona): Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa seized a two-stroke lead over South Korean Kang Soo-yun at the Safeway International on Friday, with Swedish superstar Annika Sorenstam stalking both. 

Ochoa fired a five-under 67 to claim sole possession of the lead midway through the US$1.4mil event. 

At 12-under 132, Ochoa is two shots better than Kang and three in front of Sorenstam. But the rising star from Mexico is quite conscious of the superstar’s presence. 

“The two-shot lead, and three over Annika, is important,” Ochoa said. “I’m going to have a little advantage in the weekend, and hopefully now if we play in the same group ... now we would be in the pressure thing together.” 

The pressure may affect Ochoa a bit differently. She has two career wins while Sorenstam has 57. 

“If we get to play together on Sunday, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I would love to do it,” Ochoa said. “It’s my dream to play with her, beside her, and beat her. So we’ll see. We’ll wait for that moment.” 

After shooting a 66 that included four consecutive birdies to move to 134, Kang appears less unnerved by Sorenstam. That may be because she won an event in South Korea four years ago that included Sorenstam. 

“It doesn’t affect me and doesn’t put any pressure on me,” Kang said. “I play better in that I have more confidence when I play with Annika. 

“I think that golf is the game of yourself, not with anybody else. So if you’re thinking and worrying about playing with Annika, then you’ve already lost the game to yourself.” 

Sorenstam recalled Kang’s performance in Korea. 

“I remember playing with her the last day,” she said. “She played very well.” 

Back to defend one of her eight titles from last season, Sorenstam carded a three-under 69. She won her first start of the season two weeks ago in the MasterCard Classic at Mexico City. 

First-round co-leader Lim Siew Ai of Malaysia stumbled to a 72 for 137, five shots off the lead and one in front of England’s Karen Stupples (71) and South Korean Grace Park (67). 

Teenage amateur Michelle Wie fired a 67 that included five birdies and an eagle to move to four-under 140. 

“I came from, like, 63rd place to ninth place,” she said. “It feels good, because yesterday, nothing was going like what I wanted to. ... I got myself back in rhythm, and it feels good to make a lot of birdies.” – AFP  

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