The Associated Press
The Associated Press
MORELIA, Mexico – Former Arizona Wildcat Lorena Ochoa wasn’t distracted when the fans began chanting her name on the second hole.
She stayed focused on her game, even as the crowd grew to thousands by the end of the day.
But by her last stroke on the 18th hole Sunday, the emotions were too much. The Mexican star had just won her third straight tournament and qualified for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, all at home, surrounded by family members, friends and fans. She was overcome.
“I did fine, but once I was on 18, and had a short putt, everything came into my head,” she said. “I’m glad I had a short putt.”
That’s when the crowd went crazy. Shouts, whistles, songs, they all echoed in the mountain valley. Ochoa held up the Mexican flag, and was sprayed with champagne. A sign hung from a cliff-top home read: “Super Lorena,” with the insignia of Superman.
This was no ordinary tournament win. This was Mexico celebrating one of its finest.
Ochoa didn’t just win the Corona Championship. She claimed the victory by 11 strokes for her fourth win in five starts this year.
The Mexican star became the second-youngest player to qualify for the Hall of Fame, though she still must be a tour member for 10 years – in her case, until 2012 – to be eligible for induction.
“It was very special to do it here in my home country,” Ochoa said after earning the 27th and final point needed to qualify for the Hall of Fame.
The LPGA Tour had previously said incorrectly that Ochoa would be the youngest to qualify at 26 years, 4 months, 29 days. But the youngest was actually Karrie Webb, who was 25 years, 7 months, 2 days when she qualified at the 2000 U.S. Women’s Open.
The tour awards a point for every victory and major award and two points for a major victory.
Ochoa said she was honored to be among players she has always admired.
“They are my motivation, and when I played college, I always looked up to them and I wanted to be like them, so just to be part of that group is a very special feeling,” she said.