Ochoa looking to marriage family and golf - COPIED

By Associated PressNovember 19, 2009, 2:51 am

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Lorena Ochoa is having one of the best years of her life, 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 for Mexico’s edition of Hola magazine. Her engagement was front-page news in every paper in the country. But the pending marriage hasn’t helped the struggling LPGA, which needs a dominant star.

Ochoa’s won only three times – compared to 21 times in the previous three seasons including two majors – and didn’t contend in any of the four majors. Jiyai Shin of South Korea is on the verge of taking the Player of the Year award, which Ochoa has claimed three straight times.

Ochoa finished tied for sixth on her home course last weekend at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Michelle Wie won her first LPGA event and earned much of the attention at the Guadalajara Country Club.

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

In Mexico, she’s the country’s highest profile athlete – except for football stars Rafa Marquez of Barcelona or Cuauhtemoc Blanco of the Chicago Fire – and expected to win every tournament.

But Ochoa has been candid. She is traveling more, playing less and has more off-course obligations, which include her charity foundation. She’s also planning to move from Guadalajara to Mexico City after her marriage to Andres Conesa, the CEO of Aeromexico airline – one of her sponsors.

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

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

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

“I will think about a family, but later on,” said Ochoa, who was often described 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 to meetings of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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

With all the distractions, Ochoa’s weak spot on the course was probably her putting. She complained about it last week at her tournament, yet was seldom seen 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 a wedding and then also being the No. 1 player in the world and carrying that with you. I’m sure it’s gotta be a lot more difficult.”

Ochoa recovered from a deep, midseason slump marked by one of the worst rounds of her career – an 8-over 79 in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Open. In early October, she won the Navistar Classic for her third victory. She shot 8-under 64 in the final round of the Mizuno Classic this month to finish second.

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

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

“With Annika stepping away, it was bigger than most people thought,” LPGA spokesman David Higdon said. “Lorena was caught in the middle a little bit. Annika had always been the iconic star. I think people probably didn’t realize how much Annika allowed Lorena to grow as a player.”

Higdon acknowledged the LPGA desperately needs a superstar. It’s blessed with a strong rookie class including Shin, but it needs one player to emerge.

“When you have a close race like we have right now, it’s interesting and exciting to watch,” he said. “But I always feel like when you have a dominant player 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 her career 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’re now 19 and 15.

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

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm