Monday, November 01, 2010

Ochoa wins Asia's biggest Golf prize, Montgomerie incurs penalty.

Although technically retired, former LPGA golf legend Lorena Ochoa stepped back into competitive golf holding off Colin Montgomerie to win Asia's largest prize at the inaugural Mission Hills Star Trophy event in China this past weekend.

Credit (Alexander F. Yuan / AP)

The international celebrity pro-am golf tournament, held at the new, five-star Mission Hills Resort Haikou on tropical Hainan Island consisted of eighteen teams with one celebrity and a professional. A few notable golfers on the celebrity front included Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Phelps and Christian Slater. They joined forces with golf heavyweights and Host/Ambassador of the event, Greg Norman along with Annika Sorenstam, Sir Nick Faldo, Rosie Jones, Montgomerie and Ochoa.

In the team event, played in the four-ball stroke play format, LPGA golfer Candie Kung and Hong Kong celebrity Eric Tsang emerged as champions. They added a blistering 63 to yesterday's five-under 68 to finish on 15-under 131 and beat home-town favorites Kong Wei Hai and Ye Zhao Ying by one shot. China pop star Sun Nan and LPGA player Feng Shanshan were another shot behind in third place.

Ochoa and Montgomerie added sizzle to the Mission Hills Golf Tournament staging a seesaw battle all afternoon, with the pair each recording four birdies for the day, swapping the lead on numerous occasions. Montgomerie reached four-under and took a one-shot lead with a ten foot birdie putt on par-four 17th, before making a regulation par-five at the last hole.

However, it was the 2010 Ryder Cup-winning captain, playing two groups in front of Ochoa, who incurred a two-shot penalty after his caddie moved an advertising sign at the par-four 16th. Combined with Ochoa's up and down for birdie at the final hole, Lorena earned a two-shot buffer and the US$1.28 million check.

After winning the trophy, Lorena Ochoa said,

"It was really an amazing day. It was just a case that everything went well over the two days and I was a 100-percent focused on every single shot. I tried to do my best all the time and it paid off.

"I made some great par saves, making some six and ten-foot putts and I think that's why I'm here (as the winner). Right now I'm going to enjoy it, there's no more golf to think about. I'm going to enjoy it and go home really happy."

The Mission Hills Star Trophy was beamed to over 150 countries around the world from Africa to Russia but no golf action seen on United States TV!

The press release that I received mentioned, "The Mission Hills Star Trophy is one of the first major events supporting a government-led initiative to make Hainan a leading international tourism destination in the coming years and reaffirms Mission Hills Haikou as the world's most memorable golf resort."

Note to esteemed broadcaster Terry Jastrow,  veteran Emmy-winning sports producer of sixty-eight golf majors and six Olympic Games during his career and to those people responsible for improving relations and golf initiatives (Mission Hills Group for one?) between Asia and the USA:

In order to introduce Asian golf and the latest resorts and travel destinations in Hainan (and throughout Asia) to the USA, it would have been a good idea to send the television signal out to the millions of golf fans here so that the average fan could watch the tournament. Reading a by-line on the internet and after-the-fact post scripts rarely work as golf is a visual sport.

Check a few of the posts on where Norman fans say, "Wish we could have watched you in action!"  Me too!

Read the latest Golf for Beginners blogs

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