No 1 Ochoa looking to marriage family golf

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2009, 9:18 pm

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP)—Lorena Ochoa is having one of the best years of herlife, and it has nothing to do with being ranked No. 1 in golf.

She’s getting married next month in her hometown, which will be a boon forMexico’s edition of Hola magazine. Her engagement was front-page news in everypaper in the country. But the pending marriage hasn’t helped the struggling U.S.LPGA Tour, which needs a dominant star.

Ochoa’s won only three times—compared to 21 times in the previous threeseasons including two majors—and didn’t contend in any of the four majors.Jiyai Shin of South Korea is about to take the player of the year award, whichOchoa has claimed three straight times.

Ochoa finished tied for sixth on her home course last weekend at the LorenaOchoa Invitational. Michelle Wie won her first U.S. LPGA event and earned muchof the attention at the Guadalajara Country Club.

“For me, personally, it’s been a better year (than the last three),” Ochoasaid at her tournament. “If you are talking about the results on the golfcourse, for sure it’s not the best year for me. But what’s important is I amhappy.”

In Mexico, she’s the country’s highest profile athlete—except for footballstars Rafa Marquez of Barcelona or Cuauhtemoc Blanco of the Chicago Fire —andexpected to win every tournament.

But Ochoa has been candid. She is traveling more, playing less and has moreoff-course obligations, which include her charity foundation. She’s alsoplanning to move from Guadalajara to Mexico City after her marriage to AndresConesa, the CEO of Aeromexico airline—one of her sponsors.

Conesa has three children from a previous marriage, so she’ll step into aready-made family.

“Personally, it’s more important the things that I do outside the golfcourse,” she said. “And that’s been my main focus right now.”

Ochoa may follow the path of former No. 1 Annika Sorenstam, who married thisyear just weeks after ending her career. She gave birth to a baby girl inSeptember.

“I will think about a family, but later on,” said Ochoa, who was oftendescribed as a “great ambassador” and an “awesome person” by other players.

Brittany Lincicome says Ochoa hasn’t changed this season, except she seems“more stretched with other things.” Lincicome said Ochoa has stopped coming tomeetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“She said she just did not have time,” Lincicome said. “I mean, she isstill religious but she told us she had other obligations.”

With all the distractions, Ochoa’s weak spot on the course was probably herputting. She complained about it last week at her tournament, yet was seldomseen practicing on the putting green. Paula Creamer, who finished second to Wie,made a point about how much time she spends on the practice greens.

“You see it with No. 1 players in the world,” Angela Stanford said.“There are a lot more demands on their time. … I can’t imagine planning awedding and then also being the No. 1 player in the world and carrying that withyou. I’m sure it’s gotta be a lot more difficult.”

Ochoa recovered from a deep, midseason slump marked by one of the worstrounds of her career—an 8-over 79 in the second round of the U.S. Women’sOpen. In early October, she won the Navistar Classic for her third victory. Sheshot 8-under 64 in the final round of the Mizuno Classic this month to finishsecond.

Ochoa’s been No. 1 for 2 1/2 years, and she’ll stay there heading into nextseason no matter what she does at this week’s season-ending LPGA TourChampionship in Houston. But she’s being pushed by Shin, who also leads theseason money list.

Sorenstam was a commanding player, and Ochoa was expected to take over themantle. Sorenstam’s departure may have increased the pressure on Ochoa, who hasdominated at times but hasn’t quite pulled the crowds the way Michelle Wie does— particularly in the United States.

“With Annika stepping away, it was bigger than most people thought,” U.S.LPGA spokesman David Higdon said. “Lorena was caught in the middle a littlebit. Annika had always been the iconic star. I think people probably didn’trealize how much Annika allowed Lorena to grow as a player.”

Higdon acknowledged the U.S. LPGA desperately needs a superstar. It’sblessed with a strong rookie class including Shin, but it needs one player toemerge.

“When you have a close race like we have right now, it’s interesting andexciting to watch,” he said. “But I always feel like when you have a dominantplayer like Lorena, it raises the level and everybody picks up their game.”

Juli Inkster has been in Ochoa’s shoes.

The 49-year-old Inkster has won seven majors and 31 tournaments, mixing hercareer with raising a family.

“It wasn’t easy, and my results showed the ups and downs,” said Inkster,who began traveling with her daughters six weeks after they were born. They’renow 19 and 15.

“I really think Lorena still has a passion for golf,” Inkster said. “Istill think she wants to be No. 1. But I don’t think golf defines Lorena. Golfis what she does, not what she is.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm