Ochoa looking to marriage family and golf

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2009, 2:42 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.”

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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
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.