By The 2017 European Solheim Cup Captain, Annika
This week is the Lorena Ochoa Match Play, an LPGA-sanctioned event in Mexico City, Lorena’s home nowadays.
As I’m packing my bag and getting ready to go to Mexico to be part of the festivities, I can’t stop reminiscing about my playing days against her. Although I was in the latter part of my career and she was just beginning her journey, we had many fun, but intense, battles for the number one spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. I have the utmost respect for her, not only as a competitor, but as a trailblazer for Latin American golf.
I remember Lorena as a young, talented, friendly and exciting player. She had a big, wide swing with lots of power. She launched the ball high and with some good spin. She also possessed an amazing touch, making her short game the envy of many. To this day, I can picture her handsy move and incredible feel around the greens.
I can also still envision her leap into Poppie’s Pond in Rancho Mirage after winning the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration. To celebrate, Lorena, her family and the rest of her team, wore sombreros while jumping into the water. It was priceless!
She truly was a breath of fresh of air when she came out on tour in the mid-2000s. She brought a new demographic to the game. Everywhere she went, she took time to engage the Latin American community, on and off the course. Her giving nature, even more so than the fact that she was the first Mexican golfer ever ranked No. 1 in the world, is why she has become synonymous with our great game not only in her home country, but across all of Central and South America.
We’re traveling to Mexico City this week to celebrate Lorena and her amazing playing career — 30 wins, two major championships, Rookie of the Year, Player of the Year and other prestigious honors. Despite leaving the professional tour earlier than many expected to start a family and spend time growing her foundation, she enjoys a wonderful golf legacy. Later this year, Lorena, along with Meg Mallon, Davis Love III, Ian Woosnam and Henry Longhurst, will be inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame. It’s an honor she richly deserves.
But first, coinciding with this week’s LPGA event and Cinco de Mayo, Lorena will once again show off her skills in a fun event in her home country. She’s been kind enough to invite me, Juli Inkster and Se Re Pak to join in the fun.
I look forward to once again walking the fairways with Lorena. It will be very different than the last time we teed it up together, as playing golf is no longer the first priority for either of us. However, that will make my time with her no less of an honor. We’re both very fortunate to now spend our days inspiring the next generation through our respective foundations and, even more importantly, cherishing our roles as mothers.
Congratulations, Lorena, on all you’ve accomplished.