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Ochoa leads LPGA tourney, and she'll be tough to catch

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. – And, in the second-biggest news to emerge from the northern end of crabcake country yesterday . . .

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. – And, in the second-biggest news to emerge from the northern end of crabcake country yesterday . . .

Lorena Ochoa got downright medieval, as "Pulp Fiction's" Marsellus Wallace once proclaimed, with Bulle Rock Golf Course.

She didn't bring pliers or a blowtorch. Just her sticks. And an unapproachable repertoire.

Imported pipe-hitters would have had a tough time inflicting any more damage.

So, what more does anyone really need to know about this McDonald's LPGA Championship?

It's not over, because the rules insist everyone has to play 72 holes. But the last thing the field needs to be doing right about now is chasing Ochoa at the halfway point of the season's second major.

Because, after all, she's won the last two.

Which means you might be able to find longer odds this weekend on Big Brown.

"It was just easy," Ochoa said, after shooting a second-round 7-under-par 65 that left her at 10-under 134 through 36 holes, one ahead of Lindsey Wright (68) heading into the weekend. "Stress-free. I could have shot 10- or 11-under. If I keep playing the way I'm playing, I think I have a good chance."

The Daily News has learned.

"You never know what is going to happen," she went on. "A couple of players could get crazy. But I'm never worried about the other players. I'm comfortable.

"It makes a big difference, being in the lead playing on the weekend. Because my name means something, you know. You know to put pressure on other players, and to let them know that I want to win.

"Today was one of my best rounds of the season, for sure."

This, from someone who has won six times in her nine starts.

Lorie Kane (70), is third, at 136. Rachel Hetherington (69), Brittany Lang (67) and Jin Joo Hong (70) are tied at 137. Annika Sorenstam (68) heads a foursome at 138. She, of course, won this thing three straight times (2003-05), to go with seven other major titles, and is retiring at the end of the season. Defending champ Suzann Pettersen (68) is one of seven at 139.

They're all playing serious catch-up.

"When you see [Ochoa] at the top, you know she's not going to make too many mistakes," Wright noted, correctly. "It's rare of her to. I know I can't make too many [either]."

She was paired with Ochoa on a Saturday before, last year. So how'd that work out?

"I played horrendous," Wright recalled. "We're not going to go through that round, though . . . Coming into this week there was really no pressure. And no expectations. That's the best way to play."

If anyone's going to do some pushing, most expect it would be the longtime former No. 1.

"I don't have much choice," Sorenstam agreed. "I've been in all kinds of different situations. I have experience. I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm in good [position]. The way I'm hitting, I'm just waiting for the putts to drop. Thirty-six holes is nothing. It could be a lot of fun."

Ochoa, who was forced to withdraw before last week's tournament in South Carolina to fly home to Mexico after her uncle's death, had a morning tee time. Which left her with a bunch of time to fill once all the interviews were over.

So what's a big-timer supposed to do to relax?

"I think I'm going to go to the movies," Ochoa said. "My brother is here, and one friend, and maybe I'll see 'Sex and the City.' I've never seen that show and everybody's like, 'You have to see it, you have to see it.' So maybe I'll do the movie and be done with it.

"Sometimes I don't understand the English, so I miss a lot of jokes. It's OK."

Stay tuned for the review. *