Notes Ochoa to Get Own Event Next Season


2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Five years after she joined the LPGA Tour, Lorena Ochoa has her own golf tournament.
The Lorena Ochoa Invitational was among four new tournaments on the LPGA Tour schedule next year, a 54-hole event for 36 players at Guadalajara Country Club, the course where Ochoa grew up.
'Thank you to the LPGA for making this a dream come true for me,' Ochoa said.
Banamex and Corona have signed up as presenting sponsors for the tournament, which will be played Nov. 13-16 with a $1 million purse. It will be the second-to-last event on the schedule, leading to the ADT Championship. And it will be the third event of the year in Mexico, a country barely on the tournament map until Ochoa turned pro.
'I'm very excited to be able to just play at home with the best players in the world,' Ochoa said.
Annika Sorenstam became host of her own LPGA Tour event this year at the Ginn Tribute in South Carolina. That came four years after she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The field will include the top five players in the world ranking, the top 26 players from the LPGA Tour money list and five exemptions. Ochoa said at least one of the exemptions would be for a Mexican player, and she might hold a qualifying tournament. And she already made one unofficial invitation.
'Nancy Lopez, I would love to have her,' Ochoa said.
There's still a few blanks to fill in on the LPGA Tour schedule, but the 2008 season already has 33 tournaments and a record amount of prize money.
The total purse is at $55 million, which does not include the Women's World Cup or the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge in the silly season. The figure is likely to go up when the LPGA adds two more tournaments in Mexico City and another 'TBA' on its schedule, a spot held for the Tournament of Champions in Alabama if a deal can be worked out.
Beyond the money, it represents a different flow in previous years.
The season will start Feb. 14 with two straight weeks in Hawaii, which serves as a bridge to the HSBC Women's Championship in Singapore. Another stop in Hawaii in the fall, the Kapalua LPGA Classic on Maui, will be another layover on the way to a two-week swing through Asia for events in South Korea and Japan.
The LPGA will have another tournament in Florida, likely to be in the Miami area on April 24-27. An announcement is expected the week after the Thanksgiving.
Missing from the schedule is the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, which appears to have died after a two-year run. Chris Higgs, the senior vice president and CEO of the tour, said HSBC's sponsorship has shifted to the Singapore event, and LPGA officials have not given up on bringing match play back to the tour.
The other surprise was playing the Corona Championship in Mexico the same week as the Masters.
'We're not going to necessarily take men's major weeks off,' commissioner Carolyn Bivens said. 'Weeks where there is greatly extended coverage (of a major) and we're in the same time zone, that doesn't work. But there are lots of times when it would work.'
A decade ago, it was noteworthy when the LPGA Tour had a tournament offering a $1 million purse. Now, there are 13 tournaments that offer at least $2 million.
The ADT Championship has slightly tweaked its playoff format, including a special draw for the final round.
The 32-player field will be cut to 16 players after two rounds Friday, and in a change from last year, the scores will be erased for the third round. Then comes the cut to eight players after Saturday, with the scores again wiped clean for the final round.
This year, however, players will be able to pick their Sunday tee time.
Whoever has the lowest score will have the top pick of when she wants to tee off, whether that's the first group or the last.
'I don't think I'd be in the last group,' Karrie Webb said. 'I'd probably be in the middle two, just because you already know what the pace of scoring is, but you're not the last, so you're not trying to make up shots.'
Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis and Cristie Kerr were in Las Vegas on Tuesday for taping of the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge, and they planned to take a red-eye to Florida, get some rest and play in the pro-am Wednesday.
But when their flight was grounded, it led to problems. They didn't arrive at Trump International until Wednesday afternoon, missing the pro-am round and a chance to get in a full practice round.
'It's been a bit hectic,' Pressel said.
Was a silly season event across the country the best way to prepare for the season-ending ADT Championship and its $1 million prize?
'I guess I kind of look it as the reason we went was to represent the tour, and we come here, and hopefully get through the first two days, and then we're rested enough for the weekend,' Pressel said. 'There's not much you can do. Luckily, I've played this course plenty of times.'
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