World No 1 Lorena Ochoa etched her name into the history books by becoming the first woman to win a professional event at the home of golf, at the Ricoh Women’s British Open on the Old Course, St Andrews.
South Africa’s sole representative at the tournament, Ashleigh Simon, failed to make the half-way cut by two shots, and didn’t play the remainder of the tournament.
The 25-year-old Ochoa from Guadalajara won her first major championship and her fourth title of 2007 by four strokes with a total of five-under-par 287.
Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and Jee Young Lee of South Korea were her closest challengers on one-under-par 291 and took a share of second position, though they never looked like closing in on the Mexican, who carded a final round of 74.
Linda Wessberg of Sweden , who began the day six strokes off the pace, signed for a 75 to finish in joint seventh position on two-over-par.
The Mexican dominated the four days of the championship. She began the week with an opening round of 67, which set her two strokes apart from the field.
Cheered on by her Mexican family and friends who were frequently seen waving their national flag, the slightly built golfer matched par with a 73 on the second day’s play to keep a one stroke lead.
She then posted a second successive 73 in strong winds of up to 35mph on day three to build a six stroke lead entering the final round.
She made a strong start to the final round with birdies on the fifth and sixth holes, building a seven stroke lead on eight-under-par before three putting from 40 feet on the par-three eighth to move back to seven-under-par.
The heavens opened as she stood on the seventh tee but she fought through the downpour to post another birdie at the par-four ninth, where she holed a curling ten foot putt.
That she would win was never in doubt; she was out in 34, two-under-par, and held a six stroke lead with nine holes to play. However there was a slight wobble as she dropped three shots coming home, at the 11th, 15th and 17th holes.
She entered the third bunker of the week on the par-five 17th. However there was enough of a cushion that she held a four stroke lead standing on the 18th tee and it was at that moment that she realised that she had won the tournament.
“I believed that I would win the tournament Monday when I first started practising but not until the 18th tee shot is when we did it,” Ochoa said.
“After we hit that tee shot and put it in the middle of the fairway, it’s a pretty big fairway; it’s nice and it looks good. I was walking with my caddie just saying that, you know, just we did it and it was a great feeling.
“It’s really hard to describe and I think it’s not going to be easy to realise what just happened but I’m just really thankful. Like I said, it’s been a blessing just the whole way, and a long way, too, 24 majors and finally I have this here and I think it’s for a reason and I couldn’t be more happy.”
The Old Course has a habit of producing fitting major champions: World number one Tiger Woods won the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005 and now Ochoa, the undisputed female number one, takes her place in history.
She said: “I love St. Andrews. I love to make history and this is one of those, it’s going to be there for the rest of my life and a very special week.
“What they said in the ceremony is that they would like us to be back. It would be great and hopefully we will be back and I can defend my title.”