Lorena Ochoa was tied for the lead when she came to the 72nd hole of the 2005 U.S. Womens Open. She promptly hit her 3-wood tee shot into the water and finished with a triple bogey.
This year? Ochoa is one of the hottest players on the LPGA. And she hopes she can do what last year she could not ' get past the 72nd hole all the way to the throne room.
The 61st playing of the U.S. Womens Open occurs this week at Newport Country Club. And this year, Ochoa, perhaps the hottest player on the LPGA, hopes to have a different outcome. Last year, the follies on the last hole should have made her distraught. Instead, they placed in her a steely resolve to do better this year.
I just woke up the next day and I was ready to go for the next tournament, she said. Some players are really hard on themselves and some, it's just easier for them to forget. I'm the type of player that I just learn when I can and just kind of leave that behind. You cannot blame yourself.
Ochoa has sparkling credentials already in 2006 ' two wins, and almost equally as impressive, five times she has either finished second or tied for second. Thats seven times shes finished in the top two ' think she hasnt learned from last years Open?
I talked to many good players and they have had nice advice from them - Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon, Nancy Lopez. And we have all been there, and we all made a bad shot at the last hole. And, you know, I really had a nice chance to win the tournament. And I was really happy and I just tried to take everything the best way I can and that just taught me.
Ochoa today can put the tee shot on 18 behind her because, after all, she did achieve one superlative at the tournament. Never before had anyone from her country finished so high in the U.S. Open.
We were laughing because in the morning (Sunday morning at the Open) I told my mom, We have a chance to make history today, to win the U.S. Open - being a Mexican. And then my finish (after the water ball), I talked to my parents at the end of the round and they are like, You made history, nobody is going to forget that. You know, just trying to take it the best way.
She never should have selected the 3-wood in the first place, she said. She should have hit her 5-wood or rescue club. Or, if she decided to go ahead and hit 3-wood, she should have made a good, full pass at it.
Just I learned from myself when I get under pressure, I get too quick with my hands and I knew 3-wood it could be a little bit too much, she said. So I just tried to make an easy swing and my hands got me in that swing.
And, she said, she hit the ball fat, to further complicate matters.
It was just making a bad decision to hit that 3-wood, trying to swing easy. And when you're under pressure, you have to hit a different club just to make sure that you make a full and aggressive swing. And I can tell you, that's not going to happen again, said Ochoa.
One would think this year that she is truly determined to win the Open after letting it slip away last year. But no, she isnt putting undue stress on herself to win this week. She fights hard to maintain the same even keel that she is on the entire year.
It's not good to put more pressure than there already is, said Ochoa. I don't think that this is major - I think we're playing the same game, same players, same conditions for everybody and just one more tournament.
But ' she confesses that it isnt just another tournament. It is the U.S. Open, and as such, its difficult trying to think this is just another week in the year.
It's always the dream of a golfer, a professional, to win majors. And I can only say that I'm ready for it and I'm really excited that I feel comfortable in my game and I have been getting close to win tournaments and I'm going to just try to do the same.
I think that's all it takes - just giving yourself a chance and just taking advantage of the good momentum out there and then do it.
And as many opportunities as she has already ' and didnt get it done ' is just one more learning opportunity, she says.
I look at it in a positive way. I think as many opportunities you give yourself to win is the best, and there is going to be a time when they come my way, said Ochoa.
I've been frustrated a couple of times when I wanted to get that trophy. But I'm saying, Lorena, be patient and hopefully they come this year. I think I'm more prepared and I really want to win.