Ochoas farewell a bittersweet moment


As thrilling as it was sad, the LPGA's Tres Marias Championship will be remembered for what began and what ended.

For Japan’s Ai Miyazato and South Korea’s Jiyai Shin, a new era officially dawns with the Asian duo earning clutch victories to begin in earnest a battle to succeed Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa as the best player in women’s golf.

For Ochoa, something special wound to an emotional close in her homeland.

Miyazato may now be the best player in the women's game, even as Shin becomes the new No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.

Miyazato's victory at the Tres Marias Championship Sunday establishes her as the dominant force in this young LPGA season. The title is her third in the year's first five tour events and gives her a commanding early lead in the Rolex Player of the Year standings.

With Shin winning the Japan LPGA Tour event Sunday, she will be the No. 1 when the newest Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings become official on Monday morning, according to the LPGA’s unofficial projections.

In a cruel twist of fate, Ochoa, 28, said goodbye to more than she intended in her farewell appearance as a full-time player. With the Shin victory, Ochoa was forced to finish fourth or better Sunday to hold onto her No. 1 ranking. With a bogey at the 16th, it became clear that wasn’t going to happen. Ochoa closed with a 2-under-par 71 and finished sixth, seven shots off the lead.

That Ochoa should lose her top ranking in this farewell event doesn’t seem fair. Part of Ochoa's retirement dream was going out with the No. 1 ranking. For all she’s already done for the game, for her country, Ochoa should have gotten her wish. She should have been able to walk away with the No. 1 ranking, but she won’t. Unofficially, though, she’ll be remembered as the classiest and most beloved player of her era.