Lorena Ochoa will have a homecoming of sorts in leading the field of 132 players who will battle for the top prize. Ochoa, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, enjoyed a breakthrough season on the Tour in 2004. With two wins last season, she became the first Mexican to win on the LPGA Tour, and she recorded a total of 18 top-10 finishes, guiding her to a third-place finish on the ADT Official Money List. .
There is little doubt that Ochoa, the 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, and her rise to stardom on the LPGA Tour has raised the popularity of the game of golf in her home country and helped to cement both the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta and the Tour's second Mexico-based event, the Corona Morelia Championship (April 21-24), on this season's schedule.
News of Ochoa's homecoming will certainly compete for headlines with the season debuts of Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb.
After sitting out the SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Sorenstam starts her defense of the ADT Official Money List title that she won for the fourth straight year in 2004. The Swedish star played in 18 Tour events last season, winning eight times and placing in the top-10 16 times, including four second-place finishes.
For Webb, the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta continues her countdown to induction into the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame. She needs a total of 10 starts in LPGA co-sponsored or approved events in order to fulfill the 10-year 'active' membership requirement. Webb participated in the Women's World Cup of Golf three weeks ago, so the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta will count as her second start of the season. The former world number one is looking to return to her dominant form in 2005 after winning twice over the past two seasons. She is fresh off a win at last week's ANZ Ladies Masters on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour.
Also playing in the tournament are the five of the top amateurs from Mexico.
Lily Alvarez, Violeta Retamoza, Alejandra Martin del Campo, Alejandra Llaneza and Sophia Sheridan will all participate. For Martin del Campo, it marks her second LPGA Tour event this season after teaming with Ochoa to lead Mexico to an eighth-place finish at the inaugural Women's World Cup of Golf. Marcela Leon, a professional, received the sixth sponsor's exemption in the MasterCard Classic honoring Alejo Peralta.