Ochoa Ready Annika Wie in the Mix

By Associated PressJune 18, 2008, 4:00 pm
LPGA Tour _newROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Lorena Ochoa wants to climb to base camp on Mount Everest someday. What she wont do is try for the summit.
I have many things I like to do, and I got to be alive! she said with a gentle laugh.
If Ochoa sets her mind on something, she invariably gets there. At age 13, she told her golf coach, I want to be the best. At 26, the No. 1 player in womens golf also keeps her ambitions in check, vowing to quit the LPGA circuit in five or six years.
Opening her defense of the Wegmans LPGA on Thursday, Ochoa will aim to take advantage of one of a dwindling number of chances to outplay Swedish star and close friend Annika Sorenstam, who is retiring at seasons end.
With six wins already in 2008, two short of her tally last year, I think I have the potential to really break some records and make history, Ochoa said without a hint of arrogance.
One obvious target is winning at least nine tournaments this year.
We have a couple of majors coming. I dont want to put numbers in. How about if I just win all of them? she said Wednesday.
Ochoa has a clear edge on Sorenstam at Locust Hill Country Club in suburban Rochester, a traditional, tree-lined course with compact greens. While Sorenstams best finish in four tries here was second place in 1996, Ochoa was runner-up in her rookie year in 2003 and won in 2005 when she birdied six of the last seven holes to sweep past Paula Creamer.
Last June, Ochoa made up a three-shot deficit on In-Kyung Kim with two holes to go and edged the South Korean rookie with a par on the second extra hole. It was her first playoff win in five attempts.
The golf course is one of my favorites, Ochoa said. I love the tree line, I like very much the tough greens. And when you have good memories, when you have good feelings, it always helps you play better.
Contenders in the $2 million tournament include rookie Yani Tseng of Taiwan, whose victory at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago dashed Ochoas chances of capturing a third consecutive major, and Cristie Kerr, who defends her U.S. Womens Open title next week at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn. Michelle Wie, who is ranked 200th in the world, received a sponsor exemption.
Right in line with her expectations, Ochoa snapped Sorenstams five-year reign at the pinnacle of womens golf with $2.59 million in earnings in 2006. She captured her first major, the British Open, and set a record for season tournament earnings with $4.36 million in 2007. With $1.9 million in earnings already this year, Mexicos most celebrated female athlete holds a half-million-dollar lead on Sorenstam, her nearest rival.
Sorenstam said in May she was leaving the game at the end of the year to get on with her life. And Ochoa is positive shell do the same when shes 31 or 32.
I want to win tournaments and achieve my goals, but there is also my life outside the golf course, she said. I do want to finish and just go home and be more of a normal person. I dont want to be here forever.
High on her to-do list are marriage, having children, devoting more time to her philanthropic foundation in her native Guadalajara, running the Boston Marathon and trekking up Everest.
She wants a flavor of what her brother, Alejandro, experienced when he climbed the worlds highest peak in May 2004'the same weekend she won her first LPGA Tour title. But she said she wouldnt place herself in grave danger and have her parents endure the torment again of fearing the worst.
Just to see the mountain right up really close will suffice, she said. But I will never climb it. I dont think its worth the risk.

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