Mexican announces decision on third anniversary of her ascent to top spot in rankings; Ochoa to remain active off-course in growing the game and her Foundations
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO, April 23, 2010 - On the third anniversary of her ascent to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, Lorena Ochoa announced today that she would retire on the top of the game, leaving the active game in her eighth year on the LPGA Tour with 27 victories, two major championships and nearly $15 million in earnings. The 28-year-old Mexican will compete in next week's Tres Marias Championship in her native Mexico and plans to continue to compete annually at the LPGA Tour's Lorena Ochoa Invitational, held each November in Guadalaja, Mexico.
"This is a very special day, full of happiness," Ochoa said. "There are so many things that I will miss and this has not been an easy decision to make. But this is my moment and I dreamed of it this way.
"I am leaving the LPGA Tour as the top player, No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, so I am proud of myself and satisfied. I would like to thank so many people who have been by my side all these years, most of all my LPGA partners who welcomed me from my very first day on the Tour. When I started to play golf 23 years ago, I had the dream to become the best player in the world, to win many tournaments and this is why now is the best time to leave, full of great memories that I am going to share with my family for the rest of my life."
A video celebrating Lorena's LPGA career
Said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan: "Sixty years ago, the founders of this resilient, wonderful association were committed to leaving the LPGA better than when they started, and that's what Lorena Ochoa is doing today. For nearly a decade, including when she first played as a professional on the LPGA's Developmental Tour, 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."
Roots as a Player
Ochoa's ascent to the LPGA started as a child at Guadalajara Country Club, where she honed her skills alongside former Mexican professional golfer and current teacher Rafael Alarcon, who joined her at the announcement today. After a successful junior career that including victories in Mexico, U.S., Japan and Columbia, Ochoa burst onto the collegiate scene, winning back-to-back NCAA Player of the Year awards in 2001-02 at the University of Arizona. She recorded 12 collegiate victories, including 10 as a sophomore, for which she earned the Nancy Lopez Award given to the best female amateur golfer. In May 2002, she turned professional, finishing eighth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and winning three titles on what's known today as the Duramed FUTURES Tour, where she topped the money list to earn exempt status for the 2003 LPGA Tour.
Ochoa was named the 2003 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year following a rookie campaign that included eight top-10 finishes and more than $800,000 in earnings. Throughout her eight-year career, Ochoa missed just four cuts in 172 tournaments, with 108 top-10 finishes, 63 top-three finishes and 27 victories. Ochoa has won four consecutive Rolex Player of the Year awards and Vare Trophies for lowest scoring average, dating back to 2006.
Three Years Ago Today
On April 23, 2007, Lorena Ochoa overtook Annika Sorenstam for the top spot in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings and has held that position for 157 consecutive weeks. She leaves the game in third place on the LPGA Official Career Earnings list and could pass the $15 million mark in career earnings with a victory next week in the Tres Marias Championship, a tournament she won last year. In 2008, Ochoa met the points criteria necessary for entrance into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame, but would need three more years of active play to fulfill the required 10 years on Tour to gain full admission. There are currently 22 player members and one honorary member of the Hall of Fame.
Ochoa's major breakthrough came at the 2007 RICOH Women's British Open, becoming the first female professional to be crowned winner at the historic home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrews. She followed that win at a major with a five-stroke victory and a jump into Poppie's Pond at the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship. In 2007, Ochoa was given the Heather Farr Player Award, which honors an LPGA player who, through her hard work, dedication and love of the game of golf, has demonstrated determination, perseverance and spirit in fulfilling her goals as a player. Last year, she received the William and Mousie Powell Award, given annually to an LPGA member who, in the opinion of her playing peers, by her behavior and deeds, best exemplifies the spirits, ideals and values of the LPGA. She was presented this award at a players' meeting in March at the Kia Classic Presented by J Golf.
"Lorena Ochoa leaves the LPGA and the game of women's golf in a better place," said Whan. "We have fans all around the world thanks in no small part to Lorena. We also have media, tournaments and sponsors who have come to the LPGA due to her performance and personality, and we expect to retain them. For three years as Rolex Rankings No. 1, Lorena has set a high standard that many of her peers now seek to emulate—and possibly surpass in the years ahead. Lorena Ochoa made the LPGA better and she'll continue to make the LPGA better as our business partner. I don't consider Lorena's departure as a player as a loss. It's only been a gain."
"We are proud to have Lorena as an ambassador of our brand since 2006 and it has been a pleasure welcoming such an outstanding player and person into the Crocodile family," said Michel Lacoste, Chairman of the Board of Lacoste. "She embodies the true values of a champion and we hope to continue our collaboration for many years to come. We wish her the best of luck for the future, and we are confident that her exceptional talent will take her very far in anything she accomplishes."
Ochoa's success on the golf course has led to massive fame in Mexico where she is among the country's most recognizable athletes. She has channeled her success into charitable efforts off the course including the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, which operates La Barranca, a school outside her native Guadalajara that supports 250 students and a curriculum focused on learning through the arts. Additionally, the Lorena Ochoa Golf Academies, aimed at bringing the game of golf to those who would otherwise not be introduced to it, are now spreading throughout Mexico and into the U.S. Last month at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Ochoa announced the creation of a U.S.-based Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation, as well as the installation of a new golf academy in California.
OCHOA BY THE NUMBERS*
157 consecutive weeks as Rolex Rankings No. 1
4 consecutive Rolex Player of the Year awards and Vare Trophies for lowest scoring average
172 career events as a member
108 top 10 finishes (62.8%)
63 top three finishes (36%)
27 career wins (15.7%)
4 career missed cuts (has made 101 consecutive cuts; last missed cut was 2005 Longs Drugs Challenge)
$14,817,850 career earnings ($86,150 per event)
One of 4 players to win four consecutive scheduled events - 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)
Most rounds in the 60's in a season: 51, 2004
Most subpar rounds in a season: 75 in 2004
Most birdies in a season: 442 in 2004
Most official single-season earnings: $4,364,994, Lorena Ochoa, 2007
First to reach $3 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, Oct. 7, 2007 (21 events)
First to reach $4 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, Nov. 18, 2007 (25 events)
Fastest to $1 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, 2008 Corona Championship (five events)
Fastest to $2 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, 2008 Wegmans LPGA (11 events)
Fastest to $3 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, 2007 Longs Drugs Challenge (21 events)
Fastest to $4 million in single-season earnings: Lorena Ochoa, 2007 ADT Championship (25 events)
* All figures do not include results from next week's Tres Marias Championship