Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ochoa's Surprising Retirement Leaves A Void

Lorena Ochoa always said the things she does away from the golf course are more important than the things she did on the course and that has become crystal clear with the surprising news that Ochoa is retiring from professional golf.

It's unclear whether Ochoa will play one more tournament -- an LPGA Tour event outside Mexico City next week -- or if she's officially finished with competitive golf. Either way, it's shocking news considering she's just 28 years old and she's the No. 1 player in the world, a spot she's held for the past three years.

Ochoa has been the LPGA player of the year the past four years but the assumption is she will spend more time with her husband, whom she married last December, with the intention of raising a family. Ochoa plans to address the media on Friday about her future.

The loss of Ochoa is a serious blow to the LPGA tour, which is struggling to regain its footing in the wake of a change in leadership, sponsorship issues and a schedule that's no longer anchored in the United States. Coupled with the retirement of Annika Sorenstam a just a couple of years ago, that's two major stars taken off the tour's roster in a short period of time.

Ochoa, who won 28 times over the past six years, has always been admired for her play and the way she gracefully handled herself. She seemed to be reluctant star, almost embarrassed by her celebrity, but Ochoa has been the tour's dominant player.

While others relied on their clothes, their style or their personalities to attract attention, Ochoa just relied on her game. Now that's going away. She'll be missed.