Lorena Ochoa lived up to her world No. 1 ranking with a three-stroke victory at the US$1.45 million LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya yesterday.
The Mexican fired a six-under 66 at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Plantation Course to complete a four-round total of 14-under 274.
South Korea's Park Hee-young (65) was runner-up, completing a superb comeback from a first-round 79.
American Paula Creamer, the third-round leader, bogeyed the second and third on her way to a 73, finishing outright third, four shots behind Ochoa.
"It's been a great week," Ochoa said. "My goal was to win the tournament and here I am with the trophy. I'm pleased. I played exceptionally well."
Ochoa, who picked up a winner's check of US$217,500, put her impressive season beginning down to a change in putter, and offseason work on the greens.
After her 25th LPGA title, Ochoa had already turned her mind to the US$2 million HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, which she won in 2008.
"This is a good preparation, as the course is pretty much the same," Ochoa said. "I will take a rest and will be ready to defend my title on Thursday."
The sight of Ochoa holding up the trophy was not unexpected, but the surge of Park into a career-best second was. "I felt sick on the first day. I had to be vaccinated at the hospital and after that I'm getting better and better. That's why I could come back to hit under par in the next three rounds," said Park.
After Ochoa's birdie on the second, and Creamer's early dropped shots, the Mexican always appeared the likely winner.
With Park back in the clubhouse, Ochoa led by two strokes coming to the 17th, a difficult par-4 that had tripped up players all tournament, having yielded only two birdies against 17 bogeys. However, an accurate drive and an immaculate iron set up a simple birdie, and par at the last delivered a comfortable victory.
American Stacy Prammanasudh, who has a Thai father, delighted home fans with a course record 63 to finish equal fourth with American Brittany Lang (73), the second-round leader.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily March 2, 2009)