Does Lorena Have Wright Stuff

By Brian HewittApril 21, 2008, 4:00 pm
Among others now being chased by the emergent Lorena Ochoa is the great Mickey Wright.
Wrights dream season on the LPGA was 1963 when she won 13 times. Ochoa, who once again Sunday left the rest of the field in her rear view mirror ' this time at the Ginn Open ' has now won five times ' including her last four in a row ' in six 2008 starts.
Every tournament is different, Ochoa said before going outdueling a 19-year-old woman from Taiwan named Yani Tseng en route to a three-shot victory and her 19th career win.
But the results, more and more, are the same: Ochoa winning in romps.
Ochoas still alive for the womens Grand Slam, of course. Three majors remain on this seasons schedule. But because of her current form, people are now talking about her the same way they were talking about Tiger Woods about a month ago.
That was before Woods suffered his first loss of the year at Doral. He followed that with another dodgy putting week at the Masters Tournament earlier this month. Last Tuesday Woods underwent knee surgery and might not be back until the U.S. Open in June.
So the focus on professional golf is slowly shifting towards Ochoa and the womens game. And the experts are beginning to wonder if Mexicos Ochoa will lose again this year. If she wins in her next start, it will tie an LPGA record of five straight wins currently shared by Nancy Lopez (1978) and Sorenstam (2004-2005).
Meanwhile, back at Mickey Wright, her 13 victories in 1963 are the LPGAs single season record. Annika Sorenstam got to 11 in 2002 but couldnt better Wrights mark, once thought to be unassailable.
Asked Sunday how many times she thinks she can win this year, Ochoa didnt take the bait. Im not going to put a number, she said.
It should be noted that Wright played in 28 events in 1963 (27 top-10s). Ochoa is expected to play no more than 22 times this year. But the way she is playing'long, straight driving combined with solid wedge play and a confident putter'anything appears possible.
The 26-year-old Ochoa has said she wants to have a family one day and that she is not married to playing tournament golf indefinitely. Wright stopped playing at age 34 with 82 career wins, including 13 majors. At the time, she was suffering from foot problems, an adverse reaction to sunlight, and an aversion to flying.
But before she quit playing for pay, she won the Tiger Slam before Woods was even born. In 1961 Wright captured that seasons final two majors'the U.S. Womens Open and the LPGA Championship. Then she conquered the first two of what were then LPGA majors'the 1962 Titleholders Championship and the Western Open.
Sunday at the Ginn, played near Orlando at the Ginn Reunion Resort, it was close through nine holes. Then Ochoas short birdie putt on the 10th gave her a one-shot lead she never relinquished over the long-hitting Tseng. When Tseng bogeyed 13, 15 and 17 it turned the rest of the final round into little more than a victory lap for Ochoa.
Yes, I have another big trophy, said the unfailingly good-natured Ochoa afterward with a laugh. Im going to ask my mommy where we should put it.
One final note: For her victory Sunday in Florida Ochoa received a check for $390,000 in official prize money. For her entire career, Mickey Wright received checks totaling $368,770 in official prize money.
Yeah, said Tseng of Ochoa, shes really No. 1.
And then some.
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