July 23, 2008

Nearly Perfect Lorena

Lorena Ochoa shot a bogey-free first-round seven-under 65 to lead the Evian Masters by one stroke

After a short break from competition Lorena is back and looking for her seventh win of the season.

After a short break from competition Lorena is back and looking for her seventh win of the season.

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) -- Lorena Ochoa shot a 7-under par 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Evian Masters.

The 26-year-old Ochoa started with a birdie on the first hole and added six more on the back nine in a bogey-free round. Ahn Sun-ju, Candie Kung and Angela Park trailed by one stroke.

"I'm just glad I'm at the top," Ochoa said. "I had a slow start. I made birdie on the first hole and didn't give myself a lot of birdie chances. I had a break on 10 and 11. I got really good confidence and started feeling good over the ball and the putting."

Park, a 19-year-old Brazil-born South Korean who gained United States citizenship last month, began with eight pars before she birdied six of the final 10 holes. Annika Sorenstam had four bogeys in her round of 71, six shots off the lead.

Ochoa arrived at Europe's richest women's tournament -- $487,500 goes to the winner -- after a three-week break since finishing 31st in the U.S. Women's Open. The Mexican star is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour this season.

"I have my goal for the second part of the season," Ochoa said. "I'm very motivated to continue playing good and I'm glad I got a good start."

Laura Diaz (67) shared third place, finishing with birdies on five of the last eight holes.

Like Ochoa, the 33-year-old American took a short break before Evian. She arrived in the French lakeside resort with a rib injury inflicted by her toddler son, Robert.

"My son injured my right rib the Saturday before last and I was forced to withdraw from the Jamie Farr Classic," Diaz said. "I took a whole week off and didn't hit a ball until I got here. I didn't even know if I was going to play."

Juli Inkster and Angela Stanford, Meena Lee and Suzann Pettersen also shot 67s.

Kim In-kyung, Kim Young and Amy Yang were another shot back, while defending champion Natalie Gulbis -- who played with Ochoa Thursday -- led a group at 69.

Sorenstam, the 2000 and 2002 Evian champion, played with Helen Alfredsson and Catrin Nilsmark in an all-Swedish trio of former winners.

"Today I left a few shots out there," Sorenstam said. "I felt good about everything, then I wasn't able to close.

"We have a lot of holes to go. I have a good strategy. I know how to play this course."