Rookie Francella beats Ochoa at Match Play Championships

Updated: July 20, 2007, 6:54 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Meaghan Francella aimed high.

Facing a blind second shot on the par-5 18th, the local favorite hit a near-perfect 3-wood into the middle of the green to finish off top-ranked Lorena Ochoa on Friday in the second round of the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.

"I just picked out a cloud," Francella said. "I didn't know where it went and then I heard the claps and I figured, 'OK, we're at the front.' And then I got there and I'm like, 'Unbelievable, 30 feet for eagle."'

Francella, an LPGA Tour rookie from nearby Port Chester, thrilled her large, vocal gallery with the 1-up victory over Ochoa, the Mexican star who won the 2006 Sybase Classic on the Wykagyl Country Club course.

"The whole day was pretty stressful to be honest with you," Francella said. "I just tried to stay patient and hit one shot at a time."

In March in Mexico, Francella beat Annika Sorenstam -- then the No. 1 player -- on the fourth hole of a playoff to win the MasterCard Classic for her first tour title.

"My hands were probably shaking more against Annika," Francella said. "I just felt pretty confident all day."

After losing the par-4 14th with a bogey, Francella took the par-4 15th and par-5 16th with pars to grab a 1-up lead. They matched pars on the par-3 17th and Francella eliminated Ochoa with a conceded birdie on the hilly 18th.

"She's not afraid," Ochoa said. "You know, good for her."

Ochoa dropped out along with No. 3 Sorenstam, No. 5 Se Ri Pak, No. 7 Suzann Pettersen and No. 8 Paula Creamer, leaving No. 10 Mi Hyun Kim as the top remaining seed in the final 16.

"I'm going to try not to think too much," Ochoa said. "I'll try to be positive and relax the next couple of days and get ready for the next few tournaments."

No. 35 Lindsey Wright beat Sorenstam 3 and 2.

"She played very well," Sorenstam said. "She didn't make many mistakes and rolled in some putts. ... I had two bad shots and that was it."

Making her fourth start since returning from disk injuries in her back and neck, Sorenstam also struggled Thursday in a 20-hole win over No. 62 Katherine Hull.

"Luckily, I feel good," Sorenstam said.

Wright is staying at Francella's house in Port Chester.

"I've known Meaghan for a few years," the Australian said. "I met her dad and he's a character. Her mom's great. They've been really nice and supportive."

No. 37 Christina Kim beat Pak 4 and 2 to set up a third-round match against No. 12 Ai Miyazato, a 4-and-2 winner over Sherri Steinhauer.

Maria Hjorth edged Creamer 1-up, with both players blowing three-hole leads before the Swede won with a two-putt birdie on 18.

With wind gusts making club selection difficult on the hilly, tree-lined course, Creamer was 3-up after five, lost six of the next nine holes, then took 15, 16 and 17.

"I played OK in the beginning and then the middle kind of just fell apart," Creamer said. "She hits it so far and a lot of holes today were playing pretty long. So, it was like my 4-iron against her 9-iron, and that's kind of hard to do."

Hjorth won with a 5-footer after Creamer's 10-foot birdie try slid below the cup.

"I thought I should have finished it off a little bit earlier," said Hjorth, seeded 40th. "All square coming down the last, you just have to forget about everything. It's just a one-hole playoff and you try to make the best out of it."

Francella will play 17th-seeded Pat Hurst in the third round. Hurst beat 16th-seeded Stacy Prammanasudh 3 and 1.

Hjorth will face Angela Stanford, with the survivor playing the Francella-Hurst winner in the quarterfinals. The 24th-seeded Stanford beat Hye Jung Choi 5 and 4.

Wright set up a match with No. 14 Jeong Jang, a 2-and-1 winner over Angela Park.

Mi Hyun Kim will play Rachel Hetherington. The 39th-seeded Hetherington beat Pettersen, the LPGA Championship winner, 1-up.

Divots

No. 52 Carin Koch followed her first-round victory over 2006 champion Brittany Lincicome with a 4-and-2 win over Reilley Rankin. ... The winner will receive $500,000 from the $2 million


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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