Ochoa walks away as No. 1

April 23, 2010

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Mexico City, MX – Lorena Ochoa, the top-ranked women’s golfer, retired from active play on Friday.

“This is a special day for me,” Ochoa, 28, said on Friday. “All the elements are together. I wanted to achieve my goals and be the No. 1 player in the world. I’m ready to start a new life. I want to be a normal person, do everyday things.

“I’m ready to move on.”

Ochoa announced on Friday that she will participate in next week’s Tres Marias Championship and will play annually in her own Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico.

She will become a non-active member of the LPGA Tour. Ochoa left the door open to possibly playing some major championships down the line, but this appears to be the end for the Mexican star.

“I won’t be back for a full schedule,” acknowledged Ochoa. “I’m going to start a family in one or two years. Maybe I’m going to miss the game, I don’t know for sure.”

Friday marked the three-year anniversary of her rise to the No. 1 player in the world rankings. She supplanted Annika Sorenstam, who also walked away from the game in her prime almost two years ago.

Ochoa has 27 career LPGA Tour wins, including major championship victories at the 2007 Women’s British Open and 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship, with nearly $15 million in earnings. She has played four times this year, with a fourth- place finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship her best result.

In 2009, she won her fourth straight Player of the Year award with three wins and 13 top-10 finishes in 22 events. She was also the 2003 Rookie of the Year.

Ochoa has qualified for the Hall of Fame based on a points system for wins and major titles. She has not met the required 10 years of play on the LPGA Tour, but with her sporadic future tournament appearances, and with a possible vote, Ochoa could still reach the Hall of Fame.

“I’m going to be able to have those 10 years,” said Ochoa. “You can be voted in by veteran’s committee. Hopefully I can be there. At the same time, I did my best in a short time. Hopefully I get a nice surprise in a few years.”

Ochoa’s retirement, coupled with Sorenstam’s departure, leaves the LPGA Tour without many top stars. Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr will become the faces of the tour and Jiyai Shin will become the No. 1 player in the world.

The tour’s schedule has been reduced in recent years, partially due to the poor state of the economy, but the loss of Ochoa could hurt the tour.

“It’s hard for me to answer,” admitted Ochoa. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. I’m going to continue to help the LPGA any way I can. I’m going to be around, don’t worry.”

Ochoa became a huge star in her native Mexico. With golf becoming an Olympic sport in 2016, the possibility of a comeback to represent her country was brought up, but Ochoa was non-committal.

“It’s too far ahead,” she said.


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