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Ochoa hopes to wrap up first title of year

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Lorena Ochoa has come oh-so-close to winning this year, losing twice in playoffs and finishing fourth in another tournament.

She'll try to finally nail down her first win of the season when she takes a two-shot lead into the final round of the Takefuji Classic.

``I know my game is there, so tomorrow I'm going to try to fire at the flag and keep making birdies, because on a course like this, you never know what's going to happen,'' Ochoa said Friday after her wind-blown 68 gave her a two-shot lead over Brittany Lincicome.

``There could be some really low rounds and I don't want to lay back. You have to be aggressive.''

The 24-year-old Ochoa, a former University of Arizona star from Guadalajara, Mexico, finished a fast-closing second here last year, bouncing back from an opening 74 with rounds of 63-65 to fall just two shots short of catching Wendy Ward.

Ochoa, who joined the LPGA Tour in 2003 and won three times in the last two seasons, has come close in three of the five events she's played this year.

She lost a playoff to Karrie Webb earlier this month in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major of the year.

After an opening 63 in ideal conditions in the Takefuji, Ochoa didn't tee off for the second round until noon and had to contend with afternoon gusts at Las Vegas Country Club.

She was at 13-under 131 through two days of the 54-hole tournament.

Lincicome completed most of her round of 65 before the wind kicked up. So did Paula Creamer and Seon Hwa Lee, both three strokes back at 10 under. Creamer shot a 64, and Lee had a 67. Shi Hyun Ahn (70) was four shots off Ochoa's pace.

The sky was overcast and, although only a few drops of rain fell during the day, play was halted for 38 minutes in the afternoon because of lightning.

Ochoa was on the back nine, 3 under for the day and 12 under for the tournament, when play was interrupted. When played resumed, she went par, birdie, par to complete the round. She holed a 12-footer for birdie on No. 17.

The 20-year-old Lincicome is in her second year on the tour.

``Finally playing the way that I wanted to play,'' she said. ``All year, I get too excited the first round. I want to be 10 under the first day and it just doesn't happen like that.''

She had to fight the wind for only the final few holes.

``The last three holes, it got confusing,'' Lincicome said, referring the difficulty of figuring out club selection once the gusts began.

Creamer rolled in a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 9, which began a string of four birdies in five holes.

``Yesterday, I got a bad break playing in the afternoon. I think it's harder to play in the afternoon than in the morning the first day, because you can set the standards of the golf course,'' said Creamer, a 19-year-old who won twice last year as a rookie.

``So I had to fight my way back, and hopefully the wind picks up a little more (for the final round). If it's windy, it makes the scores higher, and you've got to think harder.''

Ward, who won wire-to-wire last year and finished 16 under, shot a second-round 71 this time and was tied for 13th at 6 under.
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