By Ward Clayton
As Stacy Lewis closes on the Rolex Player of the Year title this week at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, all she has to do is look ahead a few pairings on Thursday to see one of the most dominant players in the history of the game, tournament host Lorena Ochoa.
Ochoa, who turns 31 next week (Nov. 15), is making a rare appearance as a competitor this week. She is paired with Ai Miyazto and Azahara Munoz in the first round. Ochoa retired in 2010 to start a family and a foundation in her home country of Mexico. From 2006-2009, Ochoa won four consecutive Rolex Player of the Year awards – the first three years by an average of 130 points.
In her eight-year LPGA career, Ochoa won 27 tournaments, including 24 over a four-year span (2006-2009).
With her son Pedro turning 11 months old on Thursday, Ochoa has ventured out for some casual golf this year. She teamed with Champions Tour player Mark Calcavecchia in June to finish T5 at the CVS/Caremark Charity Classic in Barrington, R.I. She traveled to Norway for the Suzann Pro Challenge, a charity event headed by Suzann Pettersen and including Annika Sorenstam and Yani Tseng. In early October, she finished T22 at 1-under par in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on the Ladies European Tour.
That leads Ochoa into this week's 36-player event. In three starts in her hometown of Guadalajara, Ochoa has finishes of T14 in 2008, T6 in 2009 and T25 in 2010, her last LPGA start.
Two years after her retirement, here are some of the significant LPGA all-time records that Ochoa can lay claim to:
Most consecutive wins in scheduled events
4, Lorena Ochoa, 2008 (Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola, March 27-30; Kraft Nabisco Championship, April 3-6; Corona Championship, April 10-13; Ginn Open, April 17-20). Shares with Mickey Wright, 1962 and 1963; Kathy Whitworth, 1969; and Annika Sorenstam, 2001.
Lowest round in a major championship
62 (-10), Lorena Ochoa, 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship, 62-71-74-72. Shares with Minea Blomqvist, 2004 Weetabix Women's British Open.
Most rounds in 60s in a season
51, Lorena Ochoa, 2004
Most sub-par rounds in a season
75, Lorena Ochoa, 2004
Most birdies in a season
442, Lorena Ochoa, 2004
Most official single-season earnings
$4,364,994, Lorena Ochoa, 2007