Silvia Cavalleri Cavalleri beats Ochoa to win LPGA Tour's Corona Championship

Silvia Cavalleri became the first Italian to win an LPGA Tour event yesterday by shooting a 7-under-par 66 to defeat local favorite Lorena Ochoa and Julieta Granada at the Corona Championship in Morelia, Mexico.

Cavalleri had seven birdies in her final round to finish with a total 20-under 272 at the 6,600-yard Jack Nicklaus-designed Tres Marias Golf Club. She earned a $195,000 paycheck.

Ochoa, the newly crowned No. 1 women's golfer in the Rolex Rankings and defending champion in Mexico, finished with a 68, as did Granada.

Ochoa had the crowd behind her Sunday after overcoming a poor second round performance with a brilliant 9-under-par 64 on Saturday. Thousands of fans and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who made a surprise visit to the event, gathered at the 18th hole to cheer Ochoa with shouts of "Mexico! Mexico!" and "We love you, Lorena!"

But Ochoa's strong birdie finish wasn't enough to overcome Cavalleri, who took the lead with birdies on holes five and seven.

"The first birdie gave me confidence. After that I was hot to win," Cavalleri told reporters. "It's like a dream come true. I have a lot of emotions running through me. I am full of happiness."

Cavalleri added that she knew victory was within reach when she birdied the 17th hole.

"It was a dramatic moment," she said. "When the ball went in, I thought, 'I can win now.'"

President Calderon presented Cavalleri with her first LPGA Tour trophy at a ceremony after the event. He also gave Ochoa a plague honoring her ascent to No. 1 in the world.

To the delight of her countrymen, Ochoa overtook Sorenstam, who is off the LPGA Tour with an injured back, in the Rolex Rankings April 23. Sorenstam had held the top spot since the rankings debuted last year.

Ochoa addressed the crowd with teary eyes after finishing Sunday.

"I wish I could have won," she said, adding that Cavalleri was just too tough. "Silvia definitely won the tournament. She deserved her victory."

Pat Hurst finished five strokes back for fourth place, followed by rookie Na On Min. Fields Open winner and early leader Stacy Prammanasudh started the day well with birdies on six of the first 10 holes. But late bogies found her finishing tied for sixth.

April 30, 2007

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