Alfredsson starts hot


POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

CLIFTON, N.J. » Lorena Ochoa is going to have to stage one of the biggest comebacks of her career to win a fourth straight Sybase Classic.

Helen Alfredsson jump-started a career-best, 10-under 62 by holing out for eagle from 68 yards on her second hole, and took a two-stroke lead over Brittany Lincicome after the opening round yesterday.

Ochoa, who has won this event at two different courses, was nine shots behind the long-hitting Alfredsson. Besides the eagle, the Swede had nine birdies and a bogey at Upper Montclair Country Club on a cold, damp day punctuated by an intermittent drizzle and chilling breeze.

Alfredsson's round was the lowest on tour this year, and it left Ochoa with 54 holes to play catchup.

“;I had birdie chances, like on 18, that just didn't go,”; Ochoa said. “;But I'm happy. I'm very good with the speed. I had a couple that got away and had to save par, so I feel good. Tomorrow, maybe, some of them will drop.”;

Only two other women have won the same LPGA event four years in a row. Annika Sorenstam won five straight Mizuno Classics in Japan from 2001 to 2005, and Laura Davies won four straight Standard Register PING titles in Arizona from 1994 to 1997.

That doesn't mean the No. 1-ranked Ochoa can be written off yet.

“;As far as I know, this is a four-round tournament,”; said Suzann Pettersen, who was third after a 7-under 65. “;That's all I can say.”;

The 44-year-old Alfredsson made the game look easy, hitting fairways and greens all day. After starting on the back nine, the former European Solheim Cup captain eagled No. 11, birdied the 12th and chipped in from the edge of the green on the 13th for another birdie. She shot 6-under 30 on the back side.

Ji Young Oh of South Korea was four shots off the lead after a 66, and Karrie Webb, Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer were all at 2 under.