Ochoa, whose four-event win streak was snapped last week by Sweden's Annika Sorenstam, stood on nine-under 135 after 36 holes in the US$2 million tournament, with Sweden's Sophie Gustafson and Taiwan's Teresa Lu next on 137.
"I played really good today," Ochoa said. "It wasn't easy with the wind in all different directions. I'm just glad I'm on top right now."
Ochoa, who has won a total of five events this season, is in search of her third straight victory here.
The tournament was shortened to 54 holes on Friday after heavy rain swamped the layout with less than half the field on the course, wiping out what play had been achieved in favor of restarting the second round on Saturday.
South Koreans Choi Hye-jung and Choi Na-yeon each fired 68s to share fourth on 138, one stroke ahead of American Brittany Lang and two better than American Kristy McPherson, Britain’s Catriona Matthew and Sorenstam, who fired a 73.
Second-ranked Sorenstam, who announced on Tuesday she will retire at the end of the season, shared the lead when the round began but was undone by a double bogey at the 18th hole.
In addition to her double-bogey finish, Sorenstam had a pair of bogeys offsetting her three birdies.
The Mexican has won 16 of 23 LPGA events when she has the lead entering the final round.
Ochoa birdied three of the four par-five holes to move atop the leaderboard, She birdied the par-three third and par-five fifth holes, followed a birdie at the par-five 11th with her only bogey of the day at 12 and birdied 16, 17 and 18 to take command.
■ AT&T CLASSIC
AFP, DULUTH, GEORGIA
Home-state hero Charles Howell fired a bogey-free five-under 67 on Saturday to seize a one-stroke lead over US compatriot Kenny Perry after the third round of the AT&T Classic.
Howell stood on 13-under 203 after 54 holes in the US$5.5 million event, with Perry making a birdie at the 18th to finish one stroke back with a US trio of David Toms, Ryan Palmer and Jonathan Byrd on 205.
Japan’s Ryuji Imada fired a bogey-free 66 to share sixth with Heath Slocum of the US.
Howell birdied the sixth and seventh holes, began the back nine with another and added birdies at 15 and 17 to grab the lead, using accuracy off the tee to set up a solid round.
Howell has just three bogeys through three rounds.
Perry birdied the third and eagled the par-five fifth hole and played level the rest of the way, bogeys at nine and 16 offset by birdies at 12 and 18.
Perry’s birdie at the last came after he blasted out of a bunker and made a two-footer to pick up a stroke.
Imada birdied the third and par-five fourth and sixth holes, had another back-to-back birdie set at 12 and 13 and added another at 17 to put himself into contention.
■ IRISH OPEN
AFP, ADARE MANOR, IRELAND
Bradley Dredge will take a one-shot lead into the Irish Open final round hoping to erase the heartbreak of last year when he was beaten in a play-off by Padraig Harrington.
Welshman Dredge carded a third round six-under 66 to stand at nine-under for the tournament with England’s Richard Finch one shot behind and Ryder Cup player Lee Westwood another shot back after carding a blistering 64.
Westwood carded four birdies and an eagle in his last five holes.
Westwood has his sights set on a 30th professional victory after birdies at the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th were followed by a closing eagle three.