Ochoa’s getting that feeling
LORENA Ochoa sounds like James Brown.
"I feel good," she said.
Like the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, she says it several times.
And she will need that kind of confidence, today, in the final round of the Fields Open in Hawaii. It's crazy out there. After shooting a sizzling 64 on Thursday's first day, Ochoa saw her lead slip away yesterday. Today, she's teeing off in the second-to-last group. South Korea's Seon Hwa Lee was 13 under when yesterday's dust cleared. Ochoa's former Arizona teammate Natalie Gulbis shot a 66 and was just two strokes back.
And out of nowhere -- well, out of Paraguay, actually -- tour rookie Julieta Granada in her second LPGA outing, made five consecutive birdies yesterday, 7 under on the day, and tees off in today's final group. A mere three strokes off the lead.
How crazy is it?
Granada credited the use of the "Leadbetter Swing Setter."
Wait. Isn't that that thing on the infomercials?
Of course it is.
"Yeah, I'm not on the commercials," she said.
No. "Golf fanatic and rock legend" Alice Cooper is on the commercials. But Granada, who looks like Dora the Explorer all grown up, should be, after the 65 she finished up with last night.
Holy cow, that crazy-looking contraption really works!
(Call now! Operators are standing by!)
So anything can clearly happen. Anyone can catch fire. Clearly, no lead is safe. Clearly, no one can feel comfortable heading into today's final round.
Another character could emerge and steal the trophy from them all.
But Ochoa, at 9 under, doesn't just feel confident. She feels supremely confident. She doesn't just feel good. She feels Godfather-of-Soul-good.
No, she's not saying she'll win. Nothing of the sort. Don't get that idea at all. But after getting into a playoff at last week's SBS Open at Turtle Bay, after the way she's played these past couple weeks ...
Well, she just feels ... good.
"I hope," she would say, "you know, the birdies I didn't make today, they drop in tomorrow. So I feel good. It's OK to be a couple of shots back, and I'm just going to come tomorrow and make birdies and hopefully have a chance to win the tournament."
She sounds so comfortable, in that wonderful, musical Mexican accent of hers. So calm.
This isn't bragging confidence. It's better than that.
As if the way she's opened this season, she realizes she may now be on another plane. As if she's finally figured something out.
Yesterday, she followed up her first-round 64 with a 1-under 71. "Golf is funny," she said. No big deal.
"I was a little bit off today," she said. "I was hitting a little bit to the right. But it's OK, I'm in good position."
And a few seconds later, she said it again:
"I feel good," Ochoa said.
Yes, getting into that playoff in her last tournament, shooting that first-day 64 has definitely done something for her.
And that's good. She'll need it, today, if she's going to make a move. It's crazy out there. Granada is using the "Swing Setter." Lee has unleashed her patented "poker face." Michelle Wie has enormous galleries to spur her on.
Gulbis, who has never won a tournament, may be on the cusp of finally breaking through.
"I think it hangs over your head every week from when I was 10 or 11 years old, trying to win tournaments," Gulbis would say. "You just have to keep putting yourself in position."
Well Ochoa, once again, is putting herself in that position. She sees that now. She feels that now.
She's that confident now.
Yes, anything can happen out there, today. But you hate to bet against anyone who feels as good as this.