Ochoa Primed for Womens Open

By Associated PressJune 24, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- Lorena Ochoa can make it look so easy.
She already has done more in five months than most players accomplish in five years. In just 11 tournaments, Ochoa already has captured a major championship among her six victories. She has finished out of the top 10 only once, and she set an LPGA Tour record as the fastest to earn $2 million.
But rarely has a year been so difficult on the 26-year-old from Mexico.
Coming off her sixth victory, she withdrew from the Ginn Tribute when her uncle died in Mexico. She returned to the McDonalds LPGA Championship to continue her pursuit of a Grand Slam, and learned only after she finished one shot out of a playoff that her maternal grandfather had passed away.
He had been ill for some time, but Ochoa figured she would only be gone a week, plenty of time to see him again. It was at his house in Guadalajara that the family gathered to watch Ochoa dominate womens golf.
I never really said goodbye so that was tough, she said Tuesday. He was my joy and motivation.
Her eyes glistened with tears as she spoke, and Ochoa began blinking to steady her emotions.
She is longer than ever off the tee, and while her putting cost her last week in Rochester, N.Y., and at the LPGA Championship, she continues to work on her short game. Ochoa is much like Tiger Woods in that she is never satisfied with how well she is playing.
The hardest part now is blocking out everything around her.
The last few weeks have been rough for me, she said. I play for a week, and I didnt play. Its been on and off, and I feel that its important for me to get a rhythm, get my concentration on the golf course, and Ill be ready to play. This is a great situation to be here in the Womens U.S. Open.
Im 100 percent, and I really want to give myself a chance to win the tournament Sunday.
This might be the toughest test she faces all year.
The U.S. Womens Open begins Thursday at Interlachen, a course in the suburbs of Minneapolis that has been around for nearly 100 years and is famous for Bobby Jones winning the U.S. Open in 1930 on his way to the Grand Slam.
The greens are tiny and severe, most of them elevated with such sharp contours that even from 10 feet, two putting is a feat.
It is the final U.S. Womens Open for Annika Sorenstam, who is retiring at the end of this year and pouring everything into a major that is the biggest prize in her sport. The defending champion is Cristie Kerr, who feels just as strongly about Interlachen as she did about Pine Needles, where she held off Ochoa on the back nine last year.
For Ochoa, this major doesnt hold the fondest of memories.
She was poised to win her first major last year until she couldnt find a fairway over the final six holes and watched Kerr win. Three years ago at Cherry Hills, she wasted a terrific charge in a demanding final round by duck-hooking her tee shot on the 18th hole into the water and making a quadruple-bogey 8, finishing four shots behind.
But just like the tragedies in her personal life, Ochoa blocks all that out.
She was asked whether Cherry Hills or Pine Needles made her more frustrated, and before she could translate the question in her mind, she already was shaking her head.
Im fine, she said. Both really hurt me at the moment, at the time. Cherry Hills, I was too young. It was not meant to be. And my life would be different today if I won the U.S. Open. So I understand the reasons why I didnt win. I dont think I was ready to control all the things that happen when you win a major.
And Im thankful what I learned from the experience.
Ochoa overcame a collapse against Sorenstam outside Phoenix to win an important duel with her in the California desert a year later, propelling her to No. 1 in the world. She took a quadruple bogey at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007 that took her out of the tournament, then returned a year later to win.
Everything is geared toward the next tournament, not the last one.
I think Im just not too hard on me, she said. I think there are many players, they just regret and are mad and one week and two weeks and three weeks and they get back to a tournament and they cannot do it, they cannot get over it. Its not worth it to just let that stick on you, have that in your head and back and forth. Im just good at that. It makes everything easier.
Its been a process, just like everything else.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Women's Open
  • Getty Images

    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

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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

    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.