Ochoa set for first start as No 1

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/g/golfgeneric1.jpg' class='caption'> Lorena Ochoa took the top spot in the world rankings from Annika Sorenstam as she will open her title defense in the Corona Morelia Championship.

Updated: April 27, 2007 16:18 IST
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The timing was perfect for Lorena Ochoa.

The 25-year-old Mexican took the top spot in the world rankings from Annika Sorenstam on Monday, just three days before she will open her title defense in the Corona Morelia Championship at Tres Marias.

"I think it's twice as special defending my first tournament here. I believed it would happen at a tournament in the States, and I would be by myself," Ochoa said Wednesday. "It's like a nice surprise because I'm at home and I can share with the people I love, my family, the media and everybody. So it's twice as special."

Last year at Tres Marias, which is just 280 kilometers (175 miles) from Ochoa's native Guadalajara, she beat Paraguay's Julieta Granada by five strokes for her first US LPGA Tour win in Mexico.

"It feels great and gives me a huge motivation playing among Mexicans," Ochoa said. "These are people who have been following my career for a long time and have a share in my success."

Dream come true

Ochoa described the feeling of finally topping Sorenstam, who had led the list since the rankings began in February 2006 but has who has been sidelined by a ruptured disk in her back, as a "dream come true."

"It's incredible. I'm very emotional," Ochoa said. "Getting the telephone call that I'm No. 1 was just amazing."

Ochoa, who won six times last year and was the tour's player of the year, could have gone to No. 1 by winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship a month ago and the Ginn Open that ended April 15. She made a double bogey on the final hole at the Ginn Open to finish one shot behind Brittany Lincicome.

Ochoa has often struggled in her homeland. In the 2005 tournament she tied for 16th, while the crown was taken by Sweden's Carin Koch

She was also a non-factor in the 2005 and 2006 MasterCard Classic tournaments in Huixquilucan, outside Mexico City and struggled to tie for sixth there this year.

"Sometimes, you can make mistakes under pressure. But I've learned to deal with the pressure during my career," she said. "I'm going to play smart. My goal is to enjoy as much as I can the week and I think we will be in good shape."

Also seeking the $1.3 million (euro950,000) purse in Morelia is Meaghan Francella, who had a breakthrough win at the MasterCard Classic last month, beating Sorenstam in a playoff for her first American women's tour victory.

Francella said she received a great reception from the Mexican fans in Huixquilucan that adds to her confidence playing in Morelia.

"I got off to a fast start with the win," she said. "All the crowd started chanting Francella, Francella. It was an experience I'll never forget."

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