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Ex-Cat Ochoa still has plenty of goals

The Arizona Republic


The Arizona Republic

At age 27, ex-Arizona Wildcat Lorena Ochoa already has won 25 LPGA Tour titles, qualified for the Hall of Fame, has a pro tournament named after her and has been named player of the year the past three seasons.

So what’s left to accomplish?

Plenty, if you ask the former University of Arizona star from Guadalajara, Mexico.

“I have a lot to do yet,” she said after playing in Wednesday’s pro-am for the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International at Papago Golf Course, which is hosting the tournament for the first time this week.

“My motivation is not going to go away. I’ve only won two majors, and I want more. I also want to win more tournaments in Mexico and break the record for wins in a year.”

In her continuing pursuit of those goals, Ochoa will tee off today with hopes of winning the Valley tournament for the third consecutive year.

Her title defense will have a little different feel because the event is being played for the first time on renovated Papago Golf Course after five years at Superstition Mountain Country Club in Gold Canyon.

“It feels a little bit different,” she said. “You picture yourself one way at one golf course, and this is really a new place for all of us, but I love the chance to defend my title for two years in a row. I’m going to be giving 100 percent and my goal is to win Sunday.

“I’ll keep trying. I’m motivated. My goal is to stay on top.”

No one can doubt the determination of Ochoa, who took up golf at age 5, won 44 national titles as a junior golfer and was NCAA player of the year both years she attended Arizona.

As a pro, some of the numbers she has posted are staggering:

In 124 tour events, she has 25 wins and 58 top-three finishes, which equates to 46.7 percent of her starts. If you subtract her rookie year of 2003, when she played in 24 events and failed to win, those figures become even more impressive.

She won six titles last year after seven in 2007 and eight in 2006 and led the tour in scoring all three years.

Her earnings of $4.36 million in ’07 shattered the record of $2.86 million by ex-Wildcat Annika Sorenstam, who dominated the tour for several years until Ochoa came along.

Before Ochoa joined the tour, Mexico had never hosted an LPGA Tour event.

There now are three on the schedule, including the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

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