Lorena Ochoa is the No. 1-ranked female golfer in the world. She won the money title in 2006 and this year has earned about $900,000 more than second-place Suzann Pettersen. In all, she has won 12 events. But none are majors.
Thursday, she had a good start on changing that.
The Mexican shot bogey-free 6-under 67 at St. Andrews in calm, sunny conditions to take a two-shot lead at the British Open.
"It was just a really good day, one of those days when things are easy and really good," Ochoa said.
"There was only a little bit of a breeze, and I took advantage of that and made some birdies. I had in my head 2 or 3 under, so it's even better than I thought."
Play was suspended due to darkness with six players, all on 16, left to finish. They will resume this morning before the field begins the second round.
It was the first time the women pros played the famous and usually all-male Old Course.
The strong winds that often blow across this part of Scotland took the day off, and Ochoa took advantage.
She sank all of her birdie putts from within 10 feet, and her 67 marked the lowest women's pro round at the course.
"I believe in myself, and I was feeling good in the morning," said Ochoa, who tied for second at the U.S. Open a month ago. "We are all excited to be here, and I'm just glad I did it right on my first try and took as much advantage as you can. And now I'm feeling good."
Many of the star names teed off early - before 7 a.m. local time - for the benefit of live TV in Asia, and that suited Ochoa.
"It was a really early wakeup call, but I don't mind that," she said. "I'm a morning person. I don't know how the next three days look and how the weather is going to be, but I'm happy I did it (Thursday)."
Ochoa birdied three consecutive holes and stretched her lead to three when her long approach at No. 15 settled 2 feet from the pin.
That was her fifth birdie, and another followed at the 17th, the usually tough Road Hole that has been made a par 5 for the Women's Open and became the easiest to score under par.
Ochoa's second shot landed at the back of the green, and her first putt left her with a 5-footer for birdie. After Ai Miyazato bogeyed No. 16, Ochoa walked onto the 18th green four ahead of the field. It could have been five, but she narrowly missed a 15-foot birdie.
"I think the first, maybe the third, fourth hole through 10, there are some birdie holes if you can take advantage of that," Ochoa said. "Starting on No. 11, it's pretty tough. So I kind of just play a little bit more safe and try to find a way to make pars."
Louise Friberg and In-Bee Park were two back of Ochoa. On her final three holes, Friberg sandwiched birdies around a bogey.
"On the driving range and during the practice rounds, I was hitting the ball well," she said. "But you know there are certain areas of this course that you might end up in, like on 17. You never know what's going to happen with the wind, but I had a good feeling going in."
Park had four consecutive birdies starting at No. 9.
"I was 1 over after two holes," said Park, who also shot a first-round 69 at the U.S. Open. "At that point I thought even par would be good. But I was able to throw out a lot of birdies on the back nine."
Lorena Ochoa 67 -6
Louise Friberg 69 -4
In-Bee Park 69 -4
Brittany Lincicome 71 -2
Annika Sorenstam 72 -1
Michelle Wie 73 E
Morgan Pressel 80 +7
Old Course, St. Andrews. Today on TV: 10 a.m.-noon, TNT. Weather: Scattered showers; winds 15-25 mph; high 67.
On the cusp
Lorena Ochoa, the first-round leader at the British Open, has never won a major but has 12 top-10 finishes since joining the LPGA Tour full time in 2003:
U.S. Open: Tied for second
LPGA: Tied for sixth
Nabisco: Tied for 10th
British Open: Tied for fourth
LPGA: Tied for ninth
U.S. Open: Tied for sixth
LPGA: Tied for fifth
British Open: Fourth
LPGA: Tied for eighth