Matthew tees off Ochoa defence

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COMING off the back of five successive top-ten finishes on the LPGA Tour, Catriona Matthew should be feeling buoyant as the North Berwick player defends her title in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, starting today in Guadalajara.

As well as the tournament host – the former world No 1 is making a return to her own event after coming out of retirement this year to play in the French Open – Matthew faces some stiff competition in the penultimate event on this season’s LPGA Tour. The 36-strong field contains six of the world’s top ten, including the top-ranked Yani Tseng, No 2 Stacy Lewis and No 4 Inbee Park, as they chase a $150,000 (£94,000) top prize in an event that carries a total prize fund of $1 million.

However, Matthew, who enjoyed a fireworks display at Archerfield Links, where she’s an honorary member, at the weekend before heading to Mexico, will be feeling she can light up the Guadalajara Country Club again after winning there 12 months ago by four shots.

“Took me three flights to get here, but it’s nice to be back in Guadalajara,” tweeted the Scot, who won the Irish Open on the Ladies European Tour earlier in the season before coming close to tasting success again on the LPGA last month, when she lost to Norway’s Suzann Pettersen in a play-off at the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea.

Having since followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the Taiwan Championship, Matthew is lying 17th on the LPGA Tour money-list with earnings of just under $700,000 this season and will be looking for one more strong performance to cap what has been yet another fine campaign by the Scottish No 1.