Lorena Ochoa Takes 3rd Straight LPGA Title

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa earned her vacation.

She claimed her third straight LPGA title with a five-stroke victory in the Safeway Classic on Sunday.

Ochoa shot a 71 in the final round for a 12-under 204 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club for her sixth victory of the season. In-Bee Park (64), Christina Kim (69), Sophie Gustafson (75) and Mhairi McKay (72) all finished at 7-under 209.

"They keep saying, `You should play, you can do four in a row,"' said Ochoa, who is taking a month off. "But it's time for me to go home. I'm very happy with my three wins. And this year has been very special to me."

The last player to win three straight tournaments was Annika Sorenstam in 2005. Sorenstam won four straight in 2001, matching the LPGA record.

Ochoa, who is from Mexico, won the Canadian Women's Open in Edmonton, Alberta, the previous week. Before that, she won the Women's British Open for her first major title.

"I think it's hard to realize (the third straight) right now," she said. "But every week I play to win and that's why I'm here."

Ochoa, playing with Gustafson and McKay, was followed by a sizable gallery, including a sponsor's group of some 150 fans from Guadalajara. Many waved the Mexican flag.

The large crowd following Ochoa and her assured win prompted tournament officials to let fans watch from the fairway when Ochoa was on the 18th green.

"I always play for my country, and I'm glad they were here, so they got to share it with me," Ochoa said.

Ochoa dedicated her latest title to her mother, whose birthday was Sunday.

"I told her I'd win the tournament for her," Ochoa said. "I'm glad I did. It was a nice present."

After the tournament in Portland, Ochoa was heading home. One of the reasons for the break is her brother's wedding.

Ochoa's day didn't start well, with a pair of bogeys on the first three holes. But then she settled down.

She played mostly at par on the back nine, missing a couple of opportunities to widen the margin. After a 7-foot birdie putt lipped out on the par-5 12th hole, Ochoa flipped her putter in disappointment.

But Gustafson, who started the day a shot back of Ochoa and stayed close through the front nine, had trouble on the back and double-bogeyed the par-4 17th hole. McKay also double-bogeyed the 17th.

Ochoa bogeyed the hole.

Gustafson has not won on the LPGA Tour since 2003. Her best finish this season was a tie for fifth at the Safeway International. McKay has not won on the tour.

"I didn't end up playing that good all day, and I played awful toward the end," Gustafson said.

McKay said the key is to maintain focus while playing with Ochoa.

"You have to forget what she's doing and realize she's going to play well," McKay said. "If anyone plays well, they have a chance. But she's just consistently playing well, week in and week out."

The best round of the final day was 64, shot by Park, a rookie from South Korea. She started the day at 1-over.

Park made five straight birdies during one stretch, playing behind Ochoa's group after starting from the back nine.

"I really didn't feel like I was making five in a row, because we had to wait for every shot," she said, adding, "I think it helped me because I definitely played well today."


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