Bombs away for Ochoa

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

Lorena Ochoa spent a few minutes yesterday taping a segment for a website that promotes her native Mexico as a golfing destination.

She did a pretty good job on behalf of the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, too.

Ochoa, the world No. 1, lavished praise on the Hunt's layout which will try to throw up a challenge when the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open begins this morning.

"I'm impressed," said the 26-year-old superstar. "For sure, congratulations to everybody in here working hard. This is a beautiful course. I can say so far it's my favourite place on tour. I love that it's old and it's very traditional. The greens are going to be a challenge with different levels. The grass is quick.

'A GOOD CHALLENGE'

"I really like the setup, too. I don't think there are going to be many low rounds. I think you know for sure it's going to be under par, but I don't think 15- or 18- or 17-under par. So, I think that's a good challenge for all us."

The returns from the pro-am yesterday suggest there could be some low numbers posted by the world's best women golfers, led by a smart 61 authored by Brittany Lincicome, though it is important to take into consideration the hole locations are expected to be considerably more difficult as the week progresses than they were yesterday (fast greens and slopey flag locations make for six-hour rounds for the amateur pluggers).

The Hunt is going to play long this week. The wet spring and summer have the course soft and playing every foot of its 6,510 yards. Lincicome's 61 won't count as a competitive course record because it was a pro-am (the competitive record for women is 65 by 1994 du Maurier Classic winner Martha Nause), but it did indicate the soft conditions could open the door for some decent scoring if the flags aren't tucked on the edge of Hunt Club Rd.

Lincicome had nine birdies and an eagle on her card yesterday with a 30 on the front nine and a 31 on the back.

It's not a coincidence Lincicome leads the LPGA Tour in driving distance with an average of 269.6 yards. Ochoa, who had a 64 yesterday, is tied for second in driving distance with 269.4 yards with Jee Young Lee.

The deep hitters will have the opportunity to better deal with the soft conditions and gang up on the Hunt's par-5s, which could wind up being a considerable advantage by week's end.

"On the back nine -- No. 10 and No. 18, if you have the driver, you can reach the green in two, so that's an advantage," said Ochoa. "What I'm trying to do (is) take advantage of that little extra distance and give myself a few eagle chances."

Ochoa will face one of those eagle chances right off the bat this morning. She tees off at 9 a.m. on the 10th tee along with South Korea's Seon Hwa Lee and World Golf Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak.

JUST 130 LBS.

It's remarkable a woman of Ochoa's size -- 5-foot-6 and less than 130 lbs. -- can generate the clubhead speed she does.

"Uh-huh, I think it's an advantage. You know, that's one of my priorities. I always work hard in the off-season to get a little more distance. I'm light, but I'm strong. I think I have strong legs. I do a lot of exercise. I have a quick turn. That helps me to create speed," she said.

She's not kidding about the work out stuff.

She runs often, limiting herself to 10 km at a time now, though she did complete an ecothon when she was 17 (she was the youngest competitor) which lasted 10 hours a day for four days and included things like mountain biking, kayaking and running and concluded with a 5-km swim -- against the current.

Ochoa has been decidedly at the top of the wave the last couple of years. She started this year winning five of her first six events and has 10 Top 10s in her 15 starts.

Since returning to Mexico after the death of an uncle at the end of May, her game has been solid, if not spectacular, and she pronounced herself ready yesterday.

"I was ready a few weeks ago. Yeah, I mean, I'm doing okay," she said.

"Of course it's impossible to win every week. I got a great start and I slowed down a little bit. It's the way sport is and life is, up and down. I played pretty good the last two weeks. I finished top 10 in the two weeks and I'm putting good and hitting the ball good.

"You know, I just have to be patient. Like I said, I'm ready for a win. Hopefully we can do it this week."

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THE FACTS

- COURSE--Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club (6,510 yards, par 72).

- Last year -- Lorena Ochoa won the fifth of her eight 2007 titles, beating Paula Creamer by three strokes at Royal Mayfair in Edmonton.

- Prize money: $2.25 million

- Notes -- Michelle Wie is using her final sponsor exemption of the year ... Canadian Dawn Coe-Jones is making her final start in the event ... The 2009 event will be played at Priddis Greens in Calgary.


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