Lorena Ochoa opened up Friday about her decision to retire, saying that her heart isn’t in golf anymore and that she desires to spend more time with her family and her foundation. She will compete in the Tres Marias Championship next week in Morelia, Mexico, and then retire, but she plans to continue to play annually in the LPGA’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational, held in November in Guadalajara.
“I want to retire as No. 1 and this was my third year there,” Ochoa, 28, said Friday at a news conference in Mexico City. “I want to say goodbye while I’m at home and I want to enjoy life that I couldn’t while playing golf.
“Ever since I started playing golf I always wondered how much I could handle. Now, I want to give time back to my family that I’ve not been able to spend with them. I’m leaving with a big smile, head up and happy with everything I’ve accomplished. Today is the most special day of my career.”
Said LPGA commissioner Mike Whan: “For nearly a decade, Lorena has represented the very best of the LPGA, both on and off the course. She did more than regularly win golf tournaments; she fully embraced her role as global ambassador for the sport, raising its stature not only in her beloved home country but around the world. Lorena has championed education for children and raised standards of support for her sponsors. She has lifted this sport and the LPGA, and I’m confident that she will continue to do so even as she transitions into the next phase of her life.”
Ochoa made her announcement on the third anniversary of her rise to No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. She knocked Annika Sorenstam from the top spot on April 23 of 2007. Ochoa's held the top spot for 157 consecutive weeks.
The first of Ochoa's 27 LPGA titles came at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship in Franklin, Tenn., in her second season on the tour in 2004. She was dominant over the 2006, '07 and '08 seasons, winning 21 titles. She broke through to win the first of her two major championships at St. Andrews at the Women's British Open in 2007. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in '08. Over seven-plus seasons on tour, Ochoa has won more than $14 million in career earnings.
A 12-time winner at the University of Arizona, with an NCAA record eight consecutive victories and back-to-back NCAA Player of the Year titles, Ochoa was named the LPGA's Louise Suggs' Rolex Rookie of the Year in 2003. She has won four Rolex Player of the Year titles (2006-09) and four Vare trophies for low scoring average (2006-09). Her last victory came at last October's Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville. Ala.
While Ochoa has met the points criteria for qualification for the LPGA Hall of Fame, she is in the beginning of her eighth season on tour. She needs 10 seasons of active play to fulfill requirements for Hall of Fame induction. However, if she doesn't meet the requirement, she can still gain entrance through the LPGA Hall of Fame veterans committee five years after becoming inactive. The veterans committee critieria states that Hall of Fame nominees 'should' have 10 years of active service but does not require it. A player must be nominated by a two-thirds vote of the veterans committee to be considered for induction. Nominees must then be voted in by 75 percent of LPGA members who respond by ballot.