Ochoa Left With Mixed Emotions

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Sybe ClassicCLIFTON, N.J. -- Annika Sorenstams decision to leave the LPGA Tour left Lorena Ochoa with mixed emotions and her own exit strategy still in place.
 
My plans are the same I want to win tournaments, I want to break records this year, Ochoa said Wednesday, a day after Sorenstam announced this would be her last season. I know the competition is going to be very tough. But like she does, I want to finish No. 1, not only in the world ranking, but on the money list.
 
Heading into this weeks Sybase Classic at the Upper Montclair Country Club, Ochoa and Sorenstam are 1-2, respectively, in the world rankings and leading earners on tour this year.
 
The 26-year-old Ochoa has won five times and earned $1,538,616. Sorenstam ran away with her third title last weekend'against a field that included Ochoa ' and pushed her earnings to $1,244,281.
 
The 37-year-old Swede, who is still at the top of her game, announced Tuesday that she was leaving the game at the end of the year to get on with her life.
 
Shes at a different stage in her life and she wants to have kids and have the clinic and she has other things to do, Ochoa said. I think to find the love of doing something different outside the golf course is something that I admire, so congratulations to her.
 
The Mexican superstar has similar idea. Two years ago, she said she only planned to play six to 12 years. This is her sixth full season on the tour, and her path remains intact.
 
I dont have a strict number which date I will finish, but I do want to go back home and just raise a family and have kids. Those are the plans, the two-time defending champion of the Sybase Classic said. You never know what is going to happen, but I would love to just finish here and be happy with my career and then just go back to Mexico and do things that I love to do, that I miss. Life is too short to not do them, and I like to be home.
 
Ochoa credits Sorenstam for being her motivation, and somewhat of a role model on and off the course. The bottom line always has been to dominate the game the way Sorenstam has over a 15-year career that saw her win 72 times, including 10 majors.
 
Im going to miss her, Ochoa said. I do have mixed feelings. Its sad. I think the LPGA is losing a big name.
 
Ochoa and others, however, are quick to note that the game always seems to find new stars. Ochoa suggested Suzann Pettersen and Paula Creamer could fit that bill.
 
I think the Tour will always miss a player like Annika, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb said. But along the way, new stories will come, great players will come out and you know, I think they will more than come close to filling Annikas shoes.
 
Ochoa, who has gone two tournaments without a win since capturing four in a row, seems to have a new excitement about the rest of the year.
 
Like I said, I think its going to be just a fun time, Ochoa said. I think we should enjoy it as much as we can, not only us as players but the media and everybody. I feel very lucky to be part of this, with Annikas career and I think its going to be a great challenge because shes a great competitor but Im ready.
 
Ochoa won last years event with a 19-under total. The course has been narrowed this year, with almost 200 trees being planted.
 
I think this week its more important to be good from the tee, Ochoa said. You have to be able to hit a lot of fairways, and that makes things a lot easier.
 
Related Links:
  • Video: Annika 'Stepping Away'
  • Annika Through the Years
  • Full Coverage - Sybase Classic