Sorenstam beats Ochoa on No. 18 to win Acapulco Skins event
ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Annika Sorenstam edged top-ranked Lorena Ochoa on Saturday in a $15,000-a-hole skins competition at the oceanside Tres Vidas course, taking home $165,000 to Ochoa's $105,000.
It was the second time in less than a year that Sorenstam has defeated the Mexican star on her home turf. In September, the Swede took the first $270,000 skins event between the two at the same windswept course -- and for the same amount: $165,000.
Ochoa, who overtook Sorenstam as the world's top female golfer in April, did well on the fairways, but struggled on the greens, losing to Sorenstam on the fourth extra hole with the final $45,000 at stake.
Pressure mounted at the start, with the players halving the first five holes with pars.
Sorenstam, who returned to competition three weeks ago after neck and back injuries, was steady and confident, pulling ahead on the 157-yard sixth hole, at the ocean's edge, with a par for $90,000.
Ochoa, who had played neck-and-neck with Sorenstam, fell apart on the windswept green, overshooting a long putt and narrowly missing a drop onto the beach below. She missed a second, shorter putt and settled for a bogey.
Sorenstam took the next hole, a par 4, with a birdie. Then Ochoa came back with a birdie on the par-4 ninth to take $30,000.
Yet Sorenstam seemed destined for victory at the start of the back nine, winning a total of $120,000 by the 10th hole on a birdie. But Ochoa rallied after that, winning with birdies on the 13th and 15th holes for a total of $105,000.
Sorenstam struggled, landing on the beach just short of the waves on the 12th hole and putting her ball in the water on the next.
The event came down to the 18th hole, a 395-yard, par 4 pocked with bunkers. The two were forced to replay the hole four times, each making par. The fifth time seemed to be headed for another halve, but Ochoa missed a short putt, her ball circling the hole before popping out for a bogey.
Despite the intense competition, the two former University of Arizona players acted like old friends, sometimes chatting as they walked the fairway and complimenting each other's play at the end of the game.
Sorenstam played down her win, saying "anything can happen" in skins.
"It was very, very close," she said, adding that it was "tough to keep up with Lorena."
Ochoa was gracious, inviting Sorenstam to return for a rematch.
"Hopefully, we can do it again next year," she said. Sorenstam accepted her offer.
Despite her loss, Ochoa said she was happy with her game and hoped to soon bag her first major tournament.
"I hope this year is the year of the majors," she said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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