Tres Marias Golf Club
Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico
May 2, 2010
Final-round notes and interviews
As she wished, Lorena Ochoa retired from the LPGA as No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings when she signed her card Sunday at the Tres Marias Championship at Tres Marias Golf Club in Morelia, Mexico. Ochoa announced her intention to retire in Mexico City April 23, three years to the day she was named No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings. She also made it clear that this tournament – one she’s won three times – would be her last, as she desired to finish her career in her native Mexico.
After starting with two bogeys and no birdies through her first eight holes, Ochoa bounced back to birdie nine, 10, 11 and 12 and come in with a 2-under 71, good enough for a 12-under total and sixth place. Afterward, however, she wasn’t interested in discussing birdies and bogeys. We’re not going to talk about frustrations,” she said. “It wasn’t the best start, but I’m OK. It’s golf. It was a tough day with emotions, and now I’m only going to remember the fans, the good words, the support they gave me the last four days and, this, being here on the 18th green for the last time.
Ai Miyazato won the Tres Marias Championship at Tres Marias Golf Club Sunday, shooting a final round, 6-under 67 to finish at 19-under and outlast Stacy Lewis (66) by one shot and Michelle Wie (68) by two. Although Miyazato made seven birdies Sunday, it was a par that won her the tournament. After driving the ball in the rough on the 72nd hole, a difficult par-5, she had to pitch out before laying up. She then hit her fourth shot to 8 feet and holed the putt for par. Miyazato, who was one of the two players Ochoa elected to play with in her first two rounds, choked up at the podium. “She’s one of my best friends,” Miyazato said. “I’m going to miss her.”
“This is a really special win for me because this is Lorena’s last event (as an active LPGA player),” she said later, “so I feel really great.”
So who takes over as Rolex Rankings No. 1 Monday? Based on final strength of field to be pulled Monday, the LPGA projects that likely Jiyai Shin, winner of the Japan LPGA’s CyberAgent Ladies Golf Tournament this week, or possibly Ai Miyazato, winner of this week’s Tres Marias Championship, will be the Rolex Rankings No. 1 on Monday, May 3. Look for the Rolex Rankings late Monday morning.
LPGA players gathered on the 18th hole and presented Lorena Ochoa with an autographed caddy bid from the week. Winner Miyazato presented the bib on behalf of all LPGA players during the emotional awards ceremony. Photos can be found at Getty and other outlets.
As Miyazato walked to the 18th tee, she had a two-shot lead with one to play. Up ahead, as Stacy Lewis holed a 15-foot for birdie to draw within one, she saw Miyazato in the fairway and thought it was all over. She didn’t know she had a chance until someone told her Miyazato had had to chip out and needed a great up and down to save par. Alas, she fell one shot short, but the standout amateur and collegiate player knows she’s not far off from becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner on the LPGA. “It’s disappointing to play so well and not win,” she said. “But I played really well all week. I hit the ball really solid. I think it’s just good to build on for the rest of the year.”
All day, Lewis, Miyazato and Michelle Wie were lapping the field, until Wie made a costly double-bogey on the 13th and missed a 2-footer for par on the 17th to lose pace. She rebounded with a birdie on 18 to finish at 17-under, two back.
Due to lighter winds Sunday, the course played easier than it had all week. The field averaged just over 71, two strokes easier than Friday (73.905), the previous low, and the first time it played under par all week.
Kyeong Bae made an eagle two on the first hole Sunday, holing a gap wedge from 90 yards. She then went on to make three birdies and another eagle on the front nine to go out in 6-under 30. She made two more birdies on her way in to fire an 8-under 65, moving her from a tie for 57th at the beginning of the day to a tie for 18th.
Na On Min shot a 1-under 72 today. Not typically newsworthy, except that she only made six pars. She opened with a bogey, then made three straight birdies before her first par of the day on the par-5 fifth. She then hopped back on the bogey train on six through eight and parred the ninth. On the back nine, she parred 10 and 11, holed out for eagle on the par-4 12, parred 13 and 14, then finished bogey-birdie-birdie-bogey to card that ho-hum 72. That’s six pars, six bogeys, five birdies and an eagle.
Aces wild! Amy Yang made a hole-in-one Sunday on the sixth hole (50-degree wedge, 134 yards), the fifth of the tournament and one shy of the LPGA record of six at the 1999 Mercury Titleholders Championship. Helen Alfredsson (round 1, hole 14), Brittany Lincicome (round 2, hole 13), Song Yi Choi (round 2, hole 13) and Karen Stupples (round 3, hole 14) had the others.
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen salvaged a very respectable week this week. After opening 73-70-74, she fired a bogey-free, 8-under 65 Sunday to finish tied for ninth.
The reachable, 466-yard par-5 10th played as the easiest hole this week at nearly .4 shots under par. However, both Wie and Lincicome, the two longest players on the LPGA, parred it Sunday. Of the top 13 on the leaderboard, they were the only ones who didn’t birdie.
Amanda Blumenherst had another great day to finish as the top rookie this week. She shot her second-consecutive 5-under 68 to finish 11-under and tied for seventh.
Of note. Karen Stupples, who closed with a 7-under 66 to finish at 10-under, made her third eagle of the week Sunday. She holed out for eagle on the par-5 18th Friday, aced the par-3 14th Saturday and eagled the par-5 5th Sunday.
Q: Ai, congratulations. Very well deserved. What are your feelings after this exciting week?
AI MIYAZATO: I’m feeling fantastic. I was really nervous over the last couple holes. On the finishing hole, I missed the fairway, so it was a great up and down. This is a really special win for me because this is Lorena’s last event, so I feel really great.
Q: So far you’ve won three times, what are your aspirations for the year?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, just try to keep winning. I’ve played really good so far, so that’s why I’ve won three times. The season is still halfway to go, so I’m trying to keep focused on my game and move on.
AI MIYAZATO: I have many memories with Lorena. I’ve learned so many things from her, her passion, what she did for her country. She’s not only a good player, she’s a really good person outside of the golf course, so that means a lot to me. Not many people can do that. (Through translator): I also think that she is probably the only person who is strong but also gentle. I also feel that personality-wise, we’re pretty similar, so I want to have a career just like her.
Q: How would you now face the challenge to be No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, now that you could be No. 1 or No. 2 by just a few points?
AI MIYAZATO: (Through translator): I don’t like to point out one particular person, but I feel like I am my only rival, and with all these great players, I don’t know who’s going to be the No. 1 player in the world, but if I can do just as good as Lorena has done all these years, I think I can be No. 1 just like her. But right now, I’ll just focus on controlling myself.
Q: What are your next two tournaments?
AI MIYAZATO: I’m going to Japan next week, and I’m going to play Mobile and match play.
Q: So close. Tell me about the putt on 18.
STACY LEWIS: I actually thought I missed it. It was inside the left edge, and I pulled it just a little bit, but the greens are a little bumpy at the end of the day, so it kind of fell in the left side. I thought Ai’s drive was in the fairway; I saw her back there in the fairway, so I was like, ‘Oh, it’s over, it’s done.’ And somebody’s like, ‘No, she chipped out.’ It’s fun to have a chance like that. It’s also disappointing to play so well and not win.
Q: Are you a scoreboard watcher at all? Did you see Ai get to -20? What’s your thought process there?
STACY LEWIS: I saw when she was at -18, and I didn’t see another scoreboard until we got up here to 16, and she fell back to -19. I really didn’t know where I stood most of the day. I guess that kind of helped a little bit, just playing my game. If only I could have gotten a few more to fall on the back side.
Q: Talk about how you played these last two days.
STACY LEWIS: I played really well all week. I hit the ball really solid. I finally conquered some of the par-5s I was having trouble with. I played great all week. I think it’s just good to build on for the rest of the year.
Q: What did you do well today? What could you have done better?
STACY LEWIS: It’s hard to say. I had a couple lipouts – good putts that didn’t go in. Honestly, there’s not a shot that I would go back and hit a different club or hit a different line again.
Q: Take me through the emotions of the 18th and everything you were going through.
LORENA OCHOA: I did good. I thought it was nice to hit the fairway with the driver. That made things easier. When I hit the green in three, I just kind of looked all around and enjoyed all the fans. It was nice them having the white handkerchiefs. It was just like I wanted. Sure, it wasn’t an easy start today, but I tried to put golf behind and just go through the motions and enjoy every moment. And I’m proud that I did that and I was able to finish strong, so I’m feeling good, happy.
Q: Were the par-5s frustrating for you today?
LORENA OCHOA: Oh, no. Yes, but we’re not going to talk about frustrations or bogeys. For sure, like I said, it wasn’t the best start, but I’m OK. It’s golf. It was a tough day with emotions, and now I’m only going to remember the fans, the good words, the support they gave me the last four days and, this, being here on the 18th green for the last time.
Q: Is there any way to compare the welcome they gave you here and at St. Andrews?
LORENA OCHOA: No, no. It’s very different. In St. Andrews, there are people from all around the world. Here, 99-percent are Mexican, so it’s a very different vibe, but it was amazing, so thank you.
Q: There are many players waiting for you on the green. How does it feel to have all your friends waiting for you?
LORENA OCHOA: Si, I’m going to say thank you. Hopefully, I can say hi to all of them personally.
Q: Are you upset that you didn’t finish high enough to be No. 1 in tomorrow’s rankings?
LORENA OCHOA: I announced my retirement last week. Today, I’m still No. 1. I finished No. 1. So I’m really happy.
Q: So in your mind, you’re where you want to be.
LORENA OCHOA: So many changes with the numbers, it doesn’t make any difference. I finished here where I wanted to finish, and everything is good.