MORELIA, Mexico (AP) – Mexican star Lorena Ochoa won her first LPGA Tour title in her home country Sunday, closing with a 4-under 69 to hold off Julieta Granada and Paula Creamer in the Corona Morelia Championship.

Ochoa, who never trailed after shooting a course-record 64 in the second round Friday, won for the fourth time this season to tie Karrie Webb for the tour lead. The 24-year-old Ochoa finished at 20-under 272 on the hilly, Jack Nicklaus-designed Tres Marias course, five strokes better than Granada.

Granada, the 19-year-old up-and-comer from Paraguay, shot a 71. The 20-year-old Creamer had Sunday’s best round, a 65 that left her third at 14 under.

Ochoa began the round three strokes ahead of Granada, but things got a bit tense after Ochoa bogeyed the 161-yard, par-3 third hole. She recovered with a birdie on the par-4 fourth, only to watch Granada birdie the hole and add another on the 134-yard, par-3 sixth to move within a stroke.

Ochoa pushed her advantage back to two strokes with a birdie on the par-5 eighth and padded her lead after making the turn with three more birdies, while Granada couldn’t mount a late push, failing to get a birdie after No. 10, and making a bogey on the 345-yard 11th for the fourth day in a row.

“I just don’t know how to get the mechanics right on that one,” she said.

South Korea’s Young-A Yang (69) finished fourth at 10 under, and Wendy Ward (71), Silvia Cavalleri (70), Kelli Kuehne (69), 18-year-old Morgan Pressel (71) and Becky Morgan (69) followed at 9 under.

With her seventh victory in the last three seasons, Ochoa earned $150,000 to stay atop the LPGA Tour money list and raise her season total to $2,124,122. She joined Annika Sorenstam as the only LPGA Tour players top $2 million in a season.

Ochoa, a former University of Arizona standout, was a non-factor at last year’s inaugural Corona Morelia Championship and at the LPGA Tour’s MasterCard Classic played outside Mexico City in March 2005 and 2006. She had faltered under pressure, seemingly pressing too hard to impress droves of fans, who hung on her every swing.

But this year’s Corona Morelia was Ochoa’s to lose after her breakout round Friday. Her final round felt like a full-blown fiesta even before she began play – with fans bracing for an 18-hole victory lap for Ochoa, who grew up in and still lives in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, 175 miles from charming and colonial Morelia.

Friends, family members and fans bunched around Ochoa hours before her round began, straining to watch her on the driving range and jockeying for position outside the yellow ropes ringing the putting green.

Hundreds followed her from hole-to-hole, many wearing red caps and T-shirts embroidered with her ‘L’ logo, and more than a thousand others watched from the galleries, some waving Mexican flags.

They screamed “Bravo!” and “Let’s go Lorena!” after nearly every shot, but also warmly cheered Granada, who played alongside Ochoa in an all-Latin pairing.

Granada, whose caddie is her mother, Rosa, said she considers Ochoa a big sister on the LPGA Tour. The pair chatted in Spanish while waiting to hit tee shots, but later competed fiercely on fairways and greens.

It was the sixth time Ochoa has begun the final round ahead – and the third time she made her lead standup.

“It’s an honor, it’s great for all Mexicans,” said Ramon De Alba, 65, who drove three hours from Guadalajara to follow Ochoa. “She’s the first Mexican woman to be great in golf and now she’s been great in Mexico, with all of us.”

Golf is still relatively unheard of in soccer-obsessed Mexico, where public courses are nonexistent and only the wealthiest of the wealthy can afford to join exclusive and mostly secluded private clubs. But Ochoa success is slowly starting to chance that, said Cristina Chevarin, 59, also from Guadalajara.

“Golf is a little too expensive,” Chevarin said. “But the youngsters are starting to play more golf since Lorena made a name for herself.”

AP-ES-10-08-06 1845EDT

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