April 20, 2010
Breaking news out of the LPGA today, as Lorena Ochoa, the game's most successful active player, will be announcing her retirement Friday.
Ochoa, the world's No. 1 player, has 27 victories across eight LPGA seasons. She's already qualified for the Hall of Fame, even though she won't be eligible for induction until 2012. But it's been a rocky 2010 for Ochoa, with no finish higher than fourth.
Beth Ann Baldry at Golfweek quoted Sophia Sheridan, a longtime friend of Ochoa's, as saying, "She wasn't enjoying it as much. She wasn't having any fun, no motivation to practice. Why go on?"
Ochoa, 28, has long maintained that she has no intention of continuing to play golf once she prepares to start a family. She was married last December to AeroMexico CEO Andres Conesa.
For the longer-term health of the women's game, this may not be as dramatic a retirement off the course as on it. Certainly, Ochoa challenges the field every time she tees it up, but she's never resonated with the American public the way that either Annika Sorenstam or Michelle Wie have done.
Still, this is the end of an era in women's golf. Combined with the late-2008 retirement of Sorenstam, this leaves women's golf with a vacuum at the top. Certainly, there are plenty of contenders, Yani Tseng and Ai Miyazato chief among them, but the Big Two are gone, at least for now.
How this will affect Ochoa's own tournament in November remains to be seen, though obviously this won't keep her from staging it. And as for the possibility of her returning to the game? Sure, it's out there, but we're going on 18 months now without Sorenstam, and I'd have bet money she'd be back by now.
Regardless, congratulations to Ochoa on a fine career. Retrospective coming soon.