Monday, April 21, 2008

Michelle who?

Much of the accolades in the golf world go to Tiger, but over on the LPGA tour, there is a woman by the name of Lorena Ochoa that you may have never heard of. That's because all you ever hear about is Annika Sorenstam (who deserves it) or Michelle Wie (who does not). Annika dominated her Tour for a long time, and was the modern day Tiger. She was thrust into the spotlight when she competed against the men at Jack's tournament, Colonial, in 2003, and actually had the game to back it up. While it was extremely debatable whether she deserved a sponsors exemption that week, no doubt the tournament officials decided that the benefits outweighed the risks to ratings, etc. because Annika, unlike Michelle Wie, had game, and 10 LPGA majors to back up her resume.

So, while Michelle Wie used to get all the hype, it is Lorena that deserves it. She just won her 4th tournament in 4 weeks, impressive on either Tour, and she is winning by large margins. What's best, she's about 5' 4" and you never hear a peep out of her. All she does is goes and and gets it done. This past Sunday she won the Ginn open. A year ago, she was leading the same tournament and basically had it won on the tee box at 17, but then had to go to a playoff after faltering on 17 and 18. In the playoff, she then had to face Annika, her "Tour's" current Tiger. She basically blew up in the playoff, blocking her tee shot badly, but was gracious in defeat.

The short of it is, rather than wilt this year at the same tournament, she actually meant it when she told Judy Rankin last year, "I will just use this as a learning experience to get better." Lots of us say that, but few do it. (You hearing me McNabb?) Oh, as a sidenote, Annika finished 44th, with a tournament score of -1, while Ochoa finished as the winner, at -19 under at the Ginn Open. When asked about her current play, Ochoa responded by saying "I know the bad stuff will come, so I am trying to enjoy this as much as possible (paraphrase)". You could hear the rest of her competitors wince, because Ochoa actually knows that you never own golf, you just borrow good play, and knowing this, she believes she can still get better.

BTW, in case you are wondering, take a look at Lorena's stats. You don't need to be the longest driver on the Tour. What always seems to bear out with the best players is that they hit greens in regulation and have the lowest putting average per round amongst their peers.

Lorena's 2008 Stats

Congratulations Ms. Ochoa. At your next tournament, make sure you let Ms. Wie, her agent and her entourage know that there is a wonderful tour that holds tournaments where she can earn money, rankings, and most importantly, the respect of her peers.