Lorena Ochoa to receive EWGA Leadership Award tonight in Las Vegasby Javier Morales on Apr. 18, 2012, under Sports
Former University of Arizona golfer Lorena Ochoa, the world’s top-ranked women’s golfer from April 2007 until her retirement in May 2010, will be presented the Executive Women’s Golf Association Leadership Award tonight in Las Vegas.
Ochoa, 30, was chosen for the annual award by the EWGA to recognize her longtime and outstanding contributions to women’s golf by paving the way for female golfers. Ochoa’s dedication to the game has inspired others to follow in her footsteps, according to the EWGA Web site.
Ochoa, the world’s No. 1 female golfer for 157 weeks in a row, will be on hand during the EWGA’s 2012 Golfpalooza Welcome Reception & Sponsor Marketplace tonight to accept the honor.
She has the distinction of being the first Mexican-born golfer — she hails from Guadalajara — female or male to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
While at Arizona in 2001 and 2002, she won NCAA Player of the Year awards. She finished runner-up at both the 2001 and 2002 NCAA National Championship. She was named to the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) 2001 All-America First team.
She won the 2001 Pac-10 Women’s Golf Championships, was named Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year in 2001 and was All Pac-10 First team in 2001 and 2002.
In her sophomore year, she had eight tournament wins in ten events she entered and set an NCAA record with seven consecutive victories in her first seven events. She won the Golfstat Cup in both 2001 and 2002.
The Cup is given to the player who has the best scoring average versus par with at least 20 full rounds played during a season, setting the single-season NCAA scoring average record as a freshman at 71.33 and beating her own record the next year by just over a stroke per round with a 70.13 average.
Ochoa took over as the women’s top female golfer in the world shortly after another former Arizona standout — Annika Sorenstam — held the No. 1 ranking from 2001 to 2005.
Ochoa finished with 27 victories. The most memorable of those 27 wins was her 2008 victory in the Kraft Nabisco when she led about two dozen people into a raucous celebration in Poppie’s Pond that included a mariachi band.
She retired at the ripe age of 28 in 2010 because she did not want to sacrifice her family life and a prosperous existence away from the course. She has been married to Aeromexico CEO Andrés Conesa Labastida since 2009. Labastida and Ochoa have a 4-month-old son named Pedro Conesa Ochoa.
Ochoa remains active with the sport as a leader of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation. The foundation promotes golf for youths with a primary focus in the United States and particularly Southern California.
Her foundation also operates La Barranca, a primary school in Guadalajara with 250 underprivileged students and an innovative curriculum. In 2008, the foundation opened a high school with 21 freshmen students. The plan is to add a new class each year and then construct a high school building that’s separate from the primary school.
Because she is so young, Ochoa constantly hears questions about a possible return to the LPGA. She has mentioned that she would like to play one or two tournaments a year.
“When I said that I will stop playing competitive golf and attending tournament on the LPGA, right away (people said) come on, when are you getting back, when are you getting back, when are you getting back?” she said with a laugh recently during a press conference at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
“I am not going to get back. It’s something that I don’t see myself going in. I will play maybe one British Open, just to get back and have fun. But I don’t see myself playing full time again.”