Day 3 Ochoa Claims First Major


Editor's note: In the holiday spirit, the Team is counting down the 12 Days of Golf, the most memorable days of the 2007 season. This is Day 3
Day 3I think I can, I think I can, I think I can
The little engine that could.
Lorena Ochoa, all 5 feet 5 inches tall and a couple of dozen golf balls over 100 lbs.
Lorena Ochoa
Lorena Ochoa received a champagne celebration after her first major victory. (Getty Images)
The pride of Mexico.
And now and forever - a major champion, thanks to her historic victory at the Womens British Open at St. Andrews on Sunday, August 5th.
The 27-year-old Ochoas wire-to-wire win was the highlight of a season in which the Mexican star will never forget.
A look into her past showed that this major moment was just a matter of time. And perhaps a little bit of patience on her part.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1981, Lorena early on established herself as a superstar in the making. She captured 44 national events in her native land and the won a staggering five consecutive titles at the Junior World Golf Championships. After enrolling at Arizona State in 2000, the determined and soft-spoken Ochoa quickly found more success, winning back-to-back NCAA Player of the Year honors.
It was then on to the professionals ranks and a brief stint on the FUTURES Tour, where ' to no ones surprise ' she earned the Player of the Year award and graduated to the LPGA Tour.
After promptly securing her place among the games elite, Ochoa began to zero in on winning a major championship. And this is where the patience part of her game started to become severely tested.
In her first 19 starts in major championships as an LPGA Tour member, Ochoa racked up an impressive 12 top-10 finishes. Included in those results was a pair of heartbreaking losses that led some people to begin murmuring about her ability ' or lack thereof ' to close out a tournament of such magnitude.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can
Earlier in the year, the now five-year LPGA Tour veteran did the once unthinkable ' supplant Annika the Great as the No. 1 player in the womens game. Although Annika was suffering through neck problems that forced her to the sidelines, the impact of Lorenas rise to the top of the womens game was unmistakingly an enormous boost of confidence.
Today is one of the most special days in my life, said Ochoa of her new No. 1 ranking, as she prepared to play the Corona Championship in her native country in April. It's really special because I am at home and I am able to celebrate the news with the people in my country. This is a huge accomplishment for me.'
Added Sorenstam herself, I have a lot of respect for Lorena. I think she's a fantastic player. She deserves to be No. 1. She's playing consistent every week. She's playing as good as anybody can play.'
Her first chance at a major as the world No. 1 resulted in a tie for sixth at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Then came a runner-up finish to Cristie Kerr at the U.S. Womens Open that again fueled the fire about her mental toughness.
I dont need to be frustrated, she said following the loss. We still have one more major this year. Im proud of myself. I tried really hard. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Said NBCs Johnny Miller afterwards, Her time will come.
That time turned out to be thirty-five days to be exact.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can
And it was at this point that the patience aspect of her game and in her winning a major came together in historic proportions. The womens game had been invited to play to years final major, the Womens British open, at fabled St. Andrews, the home of golf.
Never before had a womens event been played on its sacred grounds. Its roster of mens champions at the site read like this: Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Walter Hagan, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.
And now Lorena Ochoa.
'There's no more to say: being at St. Andrews to make history - it's going to be there for the rest of my life.'
It was the crowning achievement in what is surely to go down as the most significant year in her assuredly Hall of Fame career.
In addition to overtaking Annika as the world No. 1 and winning her first major championship, the always-gracious Ochoa also won the season-ending ADT Championship, and became the first women to surpass $4 million in season earnings and was named the AP Athlete of the Year award.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can
Yes Lorena, we all know you can.

Related Links:
  • Ochoa Wins British for First Major Title
  • Golf Central Special: Ochoa Dominant in 2007
  • 12 Days of Golf Countdown