Ochoa saying goodbye this week in Mexico

By Associated PressApril 29, 2010, 3:01 am

LPGA Tour _newMORELIA, Mexico – Michael Whan had several weeks to come up with a plan to talk Lorena Ochoa out of retiring after this week’s Tres Marias Championship.

The LPGA commissioner offered one last pitch on Wednesday to the 28-year-old Mexican, who has been ranked No. 1 for three years but is leaving to raise a family and elevate the profile of her charity foundation.

“I told her I’m going to send her some Brett Favre videos,” said Whan, sitting next to Ochoa. “It’s never too late to come back.”

Ochoa laughed, patted Whan on the shoulders and continued saying goodbye.

Ochoa announced last week she was retiring as an active player, which many expected – just not this soon – after her marriage in December to Aeromexico chief executive Andres Conesa.

She’ll play a few selected tournaments, but a full-blown return seems unlikely.

Despite golf’s low profile in Mexico, she is ranked among the country’s five most successful athletes joining baseball pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, 400-meter runner Ana Guevara and soccer player Hugo Sanchez.

“I’m not going away because I am not playing good golf,” Ochoa said, “I’m going away because this is the right time for me. I’ve achieved my goals, I’m happy and I want to leave as No. 1.”

Ochoa said she intended play this season, but in Asia early in the season she found herself unmotivated in two tournaments. Her decision came quickly after that.

“I feel light. I feel happier,” she said. “It’s been easier the last couple of weeks.”

Ochoa has won 27 LPGA events, including two majors, has been No. 1 for three years and has been honored four straight years as the LPGA’s Player of the Year. The has also won this event three times, including last season.

She leaves a reputation for kindness and humility in her wake and steps away as the one of the most popular players on tour.

“Lorena is a better person than a golfer,” said tour player Reilley Rankin, who described Ochoa as her “best friend out here.”

“I think we all knew it was coming within a couple of years, but to be honest with you I don’t think Lorena knew it was coming this soon,” Rankin said. “She has just always been so real and very well-balanced, and as soon as that balance in her life was a little off she was aware of it.”

Player after player offered stories about Ochoa being down to earth.

Rankin described traveling with Ochoa on the Future’s development tour and buying fishing poles to kill time as they racked up thousands of highway miles.

“We went and bought poles one week and we just found a place to fish every week – me and my dad against Lorena and her brother. “We had an on-going contest who caught the most fish.”

Christina Kim recalled being paired with her a few years ago in the tournament Ochoa’s hosts annually in her hometown of Guadalajara.

“They were holding up babies at the edge of the ropes, just like the Pope,” Kim said. “I’ve been saying for years she going to be canonized one of these days.”

Hawaii-born Michelle Wie, part of a long list of players who could eventually take over the No. 1 ranking, said she respected Ochoa for being true to herself.

“It’s fast,” Wie said of the retirement. “I kind of respect her for that, though. It was a good move. She has to do whatever makes her happy. And she left on top and that I respect too.”

Ochoa will tee off on Thursday and Friday with American Natalie Gulbis and Japanese Ai Miyazato. Ochoa asked specifically to play with both of them.

Gulbis and Ochoa grew up in junior golf together, and Miyazato has won two of the first four LPGA events this season and is also in that group that could eventually claim No. 1.

“I think she’s the nicest girl on tour,” Ochoa said of Miyazato. “She’s my favorite. I admire her, how she handles her career with all the pressure from Asia, from Japan. It’s going to be a couple rounds that I’m going to remember forever, so it’s nice to be with them.”

Miyazato knew nothing of Ochoa’s choice until she was told Wednesday on the practice range.

“I feel really happy about that. It is an honor to be able to play with her in her last tournament,” Miyazato said. “She is always the same, on the same wavelength if she is playing good or not so good. It is tough to be like that.”

Just behind Ochoa in the rankings are: No. 2 Jiyai Shin of South Korea, Yani Tseng of Taiwan, Suzanne Pettersen of Norway, Miyazato and American Cristie Kerr at No. 6. Wie is No. 9.

Despite Ochoa’s dominance, no Mexican player is anywhere close to the top tier. Behind Ochoa is Sophia Sheridan ranked No. 344 and Tanya Dergal at 737. Many eyes will be on two Mexican 13-year-olds playing the tournament – Ana Paula Valdes and Marijosse Navarro.

Ochoa is sure to get a giant reception. A 15-foot-by-15-foot canvas sign hanging in front of the massive flagstone club house reads: “Welcome to your home Lore. Thanks for all you have given us.”

Tournament officials said they expected attendance of 40,000, almost double the 25,000 of last season at the Tres Marias Golf Club, a mountainside course cut by deep valleys and spectacular scenery.

Ochoa said she had given away about 200 tickets to friends and family.

“I can tell you right away it is going to be tough dealing with all the emotions. For sure there are going to be a lot of tears – joy tears,” Ochoa said. “For me, this is the best moment in my career.”

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What's in the bag: API winner McIlroy

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:59 pm

Rory McIlroy closed in 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Here's a look inside the winners' bag.

Driver: TaylorMade M3 (8.5 degrees), with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft

Fairway woods: TaylorMade M3 (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80TX, (19 degrees) with Fujikura Rombax P95X shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4), P-730 RORS prototype (5-9), with Project X 7.0 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (48, 52, 56 degrees), Hi-Toe(60 degrees), with Project X Rifle 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto prototype

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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API purse payout: What Rory, Tiger, field made

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 12:08 pm

Rory McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and collected one of the biggest non-major paychecks of the year. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out at Bay Hill.

1 Rory McIlroy -18 $1,602,000
2 Bryson DeChambeau -15 $961,200
3 Justin Rose -14 $605,200
4 Henrik Stenson -13 $427,200
T5 Tiger Woods -10 $356,000
T5 Ryan Moore -10 $320,400
T7 Marc Leishman -8 $249,992
T7 Kevin Chappell -8 $249,992
T7 Luke List -8 $249,992
T7 Sean O'Hair -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Rodgers -8 $249,992
T7 Patrick Reed -8 $249,992
13 Chris Kirk -7 $186,900
T14 Kyle Stanley -6 $137,950
T14 Charles Howell III -6 $137,950
T14 Sam Horsfield -6 $137,950
T14 Bud Cauley -6 $137,950
T14 Grayson Murray -6 $137,950
T14 Byeong Hun An -6 $137,950
T14 Rickie Fowler -6 $137,950
T14 Charley Hoffman -6 $137,950
T22 Brian Gay -5 $89,000
T22 Harris English -5 $89,000
T22 Jason Day -5 $89,000
T22 Graeme McDowell -5 $89,000
T26 Tom Hoge -4 $59,319
T26 Martin Laird -4 $59,319
T26 Emiliano Grillo -4 $59,319
T26 Tommy Fleetwood -4 $59,319
T26 Francesco Molinari -4 $59,319
T26 Keegan Bradley -4 $59,319
T26 Zach Johnson -4 $59,319
T26 William McGirt -4 $59,319
T26 John Huh -4 $59,319
T26 Talor Gooch -4 $59,319
T36 Alex Noren -3 $41,919
T36 Kevin Na -3 $41,919
T36 Brandon Harkins -3 $41,919
T36 Brian Stuard -3 $41,919
T36 Austin Cook -3 $41,919
T41 Ian Poulter -2 $30,305
T41 C.T. Pan -2 $30,305
T41 Adam Scott -2 $30,305
T41 Aaron Wise -2 $30,305
T41 Kevin Streelman -2 $30,305
T41 J.B. Holmes -2 $30,305
T41 Jamie Lovemark -2 $30,305
T41 Ollie Schniederjans -2 $30,305
T49 Lucas Glover -1 $21,965
T49 Ernie Els -1 $21,965
T49 Hideki Matsuyama -1 $21,965
T49 Chesson Hadley -1 $21,965
T49 Sam Burns -1 $21,965
T54 Li HaoTong E $20,470
T54 Mackenzie Hughes E $20,470
T54 Brian Harman E $20,470
T54 Billy Horschel E $20,114
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After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

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Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.