Friday, February 12, 2010

Lorena Ochoa LPGA golfer talks marriage, motherhood and Twitter?

Lorena OchoaMIKE SCANLAN: Lorena, we’d like to start with some LPGA business. In the past three weeks, we’ve announced three title sponsors: Sybase, Hana Bank and, just today, Kia.  Talk about the excitement of new partners being interested in the LPGA.

LORENA OCHOA: Hello Mike, hello everyone.  For sure that is great news.  Not only me, but all of the players believe that the LPGA is going in the right direction.  It’s nice to find out that we have new sponsors.  It helps a lot.  I’m excited to have more options to play tournaments.  It’s very special.  Thank you to the sponsors.  I’m looking forward to those tournaments.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, I know this is going to sound like a very strange question for someone who's coming off winning Player of the Year last year, but based on only three wins after such a big year in 2008, do you feel like it was sort of a little bit of a down season for you?
LORENA OCHOA:  I didn't understand the last part of the question.

Q.  Do you feel like it was sort of a down season even though you won Player of the Year and had so many strong finishes after winning so many times in 2008?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, no, I would never consider it a down season, what happened in 2009.  The opposite, I always try to look everything and learn as much as I can.  It was really tough in different ways, in my personal life, also a lot of things happened for me outside the golf course.  So with all of that and being able to maintain my title and stay at the No. 1 player in the world, it means a lot.  When it's tougher and when you achieve something, it feels a lot better.  So I'm really happy the way I finished, and I'm excited to start 2010.

Q.  I guess a couple quick ones.  One of them is going to be a fun one.  The first one, if you could comment a little bit about your thoughts on the whole groove situation with the new rulings coming in, and of course on the PGA side Phil Mickelson making some waves there with his decision to play some wedges from Ping that do conform but don't conform according to other people and loopholes.  Have you been doing anything to work with that?  What are your thoughts on it?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think just like everybody else, I got my new clubs early, first week of January, and I've been practicing with them since that time.  I feel very comfortable.  I think you can notice maybe a very small change.  To me the ball just maybe comes out a little bit higher and a little bit harder to get a lot of spin.  But not much of a difference.  I'm happy.  I'm confident that I have the right equipment for me.  Ping has always been working extremely hard for us, and I'm ready to go.  I think the change is for all of the players, so you just need to be patient and go with the change.

Q.  When will we see Lorena Ochoa on Twitter Tweeting regularly?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, never.  I'm not that type of person for sure.

Q.  Can you talk about any concerns you might have as far as the schedule whereas you guys can play two weeks in a row and then have three off, play a tournament, then have three weeks off, and then you also have in the middle of the summer I think it's five major tournaments in six weeks.  Can you just talk about any concerns you might have of staying sharp or conserving energy as you get into the middle of the summer?  Just talk about the schedule, please.
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes.  Well, I'm really happy.  To me it looks good.  That's the way it is, and I just think we need to try to work around.  I think as much time for me as I can spend at home is great news.  Now that I'm married, everything is good for me, and it's just nice to be home.  And at the same time I get to practice, have a lot more practice time with my coach here in Mexico.  So I don't mind at all having a few weeks off.
    You are correct about the summer.  You need to be careful and be at the top of your game to play good five weeks, because probably those five weeks are going to mark the rest of the year.

Q.  Do you have any idea how many you will play this year?
LORENA OCHOA:  About the same.  I think I have my schedule right now at 23 ‑‑ 22, 23, so we'll see.  There will be maybe one more or one less, but just around that number.

Q.  And then the last question, I've talked to other players, and they say one of the great things about the fact that there are so few tournaments is the fact that every tournament is going to be loaded with the best players.  Do you feel that, and what are your thoughts on the fact that most every top player is going to play most every event?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think this has been happening for the last couple years.  I think it's very amazing how we have every tournament the top players, and I like that.  I think the better the competition gets, the more exciting for the media, for us, for all the fans that come and watch us play, so I like that.  Hopefully we just come together and be there every week to have a great tournament to be successful.

Q.  Congratulations on the marriage. I wanted to ask you a little bit about that. How did the ceremony go? Were there a lot of people there? Did any other Tour players attend? And what's it like being a mom? I know your family just got a lot bigger.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes. Well, thank you. It is a change. Right now I'm enjoying the moment. The ceremony, it was beautiful. It was in Guadalajara close to home. It was a small ceremony. We decided not to have very many people from the outside, so we didn't have any LPGA professionals. It was just some relatives and very, very close friends.

Right now I'm living in Mexico City. We moved up here.  Andres has been here for many years, so I'm living in Mexico City, and everything is going very well.  I'm excited.  Family is the most important thing, so I'm trying to learn and to do my best.

Q.  How old are Andres' kids, and to ask you the million‑dollar Annika question, do you think you'll be having a child of your own sometime soon?
LORENA OCHOA:  Andres' kids are ‑‑ the oldest one is turning 14 this Sunday, and then 12 is a girl, and then 7 is a girl.  They are at a fun age.  We go and play sometimes golf, sometimes tennis.  We like to spend some time together.
    Having kids of my own, I think I still want to wait a little bit.  I'm going to keep playing for a few years, and then after that we'll make a decision.

Q.  With all the off‑season activity going on in your life, do you have any concerns about being able to focus on golf when it's time to focus on golf, whether it's practicing or whether it's competing?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, no concerns.  I think it's been very clear, Andres has been with me for a few years, and he knows how is my life.  We've been pretty good about not spending too long or too much time without seeing each other, so he's going to try to travel as much as he can.  The practicing is going well.  I'm taking the time I need to and being there 100 percent.  So everything is going well.
    I think if you are happy, it's a lot easier to play good golf, so I'm trying to go that way.

Q.  You have a new commissioner now.  I know Mike has had a chance to get to know some of the players last fall and into the start of this year.  What are your impressions of the new commissioner?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think we can see so far that we're making some improvements and some changes.  I had the opportunity to meet him in Houston just very briefly; I wanted to say thank you.  For us it's very important to support him, just to tell him that he has my support and as much as we can do to help, we are willing to do.  We're going to work together.

Q.  With everything that happened during the off‑season, your new family structure and everything, can you tell us and give us some specifics about how you've prepared during the off‑season for the upcoming LPGA Tour season?
LORENA OCHOA:  It's not that ‑‑ I always like to talk about the way do things.  Now I'm in Mexico City.  I've been taking the time like I always do to practice six, seven hours and go to the gym a couple hours every day.  My coach is traveling here to watch me play and help me a little bit with technique like we always do.  So I'm prepared.  That's all I can say.  I'm excited.  We all can't wait to start playing and make the trip.  I'm going to fly out on Sunday and be there to start the year.

Q.  2009 was kind of a breakthrough year for a couple of players, maybe not breakthrough but you saw up close ‑‑ rather the rivalry you have now with Jiyai Shin and Michelle Wie winning your tournament.  The emergence of those players and maybe a couple others, does that inspire you in the off‑season to make sure that you are sharp for the following year?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well I think yes, for sure I know that the competition is getting tougher and tougher.  But at the same time I never pay too much attention to other players.  I always try to focus on my game and to see where are the things that I can improve and work on.  This has been the case this year, just trying to improve on my short game and my putting.  Believe me, I have enough motivation.  I want to stay at the top and practice very hard every day to be up there.

Q.  You'll been coming down to Thailand and Singapore in the next few weeks.  How important is it to set down a marker when you arrive and play really, really well?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, of course it will be important, but I'm going to do it just like I always do, just be prepared and try to get a good practice round to see the golf course and give 100 percent every day.  I don't like to think too much ahead, just kind of one day at a time and put myself in a good position for the weekend.  I think it should be fun for all of us to see each other and get the Tour started.

Q.  When you do come down, you'll be with Michelle Wie who will be making her first visit to Thailand and Singapore.  Chances are the press are going to go a bit crazy over her.  Do you think that will take off some of the pressure from you, or do you think it's a bit unfair for everyone focusing so much on Michelle Wie?
LORENA OCHOA:  Either way, it is something that is out of my hands.  I'd be happy to be there and help the media and be nice with all the fans.  But if Michelle takes a lot of attention, that's good, too.  I think what is important is to be there on Thursday and try to make as many birdies as you can.

Q.  I saw on the schedule on your website that the tournament in northwest Arkansas is one of the few you have not decided not to play in, and I was kind of just wondering if that was a final decision, and if it is, why you decided you're not playing there.
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I have a number of tournaments that I would like to play, and they go very well with my schedule going back and forth from the States from Mexico City to be here at home.  It is not a final decision.  I'm going to add maybe one or two more tournaments at the end of the year later on when the weeks go on.  So I will consider that and maybe have different news later in the year.

Q.  I have two questions for you.  I just wanted to follow up regarding Michael Whan.  You mentioned there had been some improvements and changes that you've seen from him.  I know he's only been in the commissioner's office for over a month, but is there anything specific you've noticed that he's done, whether it's reaching out to certain players or anything else that he's done that's kind of had a nice impression on you and maybe some other players besides the addition of the tournaments for the 2010 season thus far?
LORENA OCHOA:  From what I can see, he's trying to learn as much as he can, interviewing different players and getting as much information as he can before making any big moves.  I think that's very important at least to the players to see what we need and what is best for us.  So I think that's a great way to start.
    And having the new sponsorships and having more tournaments, you know, I think a lot of those things are a clear mark that he's working in the right direction.  Hopefully those relationships become very strong and we continue to have better tournaments in the next few years.

    Q.  My next question is you've had so much success in Southern California dating all the way back to the Junior World Golf Championships and you've won at Bighorn, obviously won the Kraft Nabisco.  How excited are you that there's another tournament on the schedule for 2010 down at La Costa?
    LORENA OCHOA:  Yeah, I'm very excited.  We're going to have plans with my family and relatives that are excited to come and watch me play.  There are so many Mexicans in San Diego that I think it will be nice to have a lot of support during that week.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'll be there for the tournament and supporting the new event.

Q.  Did you say you have relatives in San Diego or just coming up from Mexico?
LORENA OCHOA:  Coming up from Mexico.

Q.  I'm not sure if this question has been asked because I just joined a while ago.  What are your thoughts on the whole issue with the whole controversy with Tiger Woods?  What was your first reaction when you first heard the news?  And do you think it will affect him?  Do you think he'll still be able to go out and win some more majors?  And the other question is your thoughts on coming back to Singapore?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, about Tiger Woods, I really don't have much to say.  I think for all of us, it was a big surprise, disappointment in many ways.  But hopefully he's taking care of his problems and hopefully he'll be back soon.  I have nothing else to say.
    I'm excited to go to Singapore, of course.  It's a beautiful place.  I've won there before, and I'm looking forward to having a great year.

Q.  You have been a source of great pride and good news for Mexicans, especially here in the U.S. where all the news coming from Mexico usually is bad news.  What are your thoughts about the situation that our country is living in right now with crime and drugs, et cetera?
LORENA OCHOA:  Well, I think for sure I would like to see the country in a better position with the politics and especially the security, to be better not only in Mexico City but in different parts of the country.  But at the same time, there's not much I can do.  I'm trying to play my sport and to do the best I can to keep as many Mexicans as I can happy, so hopefully we continue that and hopefully I see the support like I always have seen through the years and enjoy every tournament.

Q.  Second, do you see more Mexican golfers coming up following in your steps in golf?
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, for sure.  Especially here in Mexico, before used to be only three, four girls playing.  Now in every Cup there's more than 30 or 40 or 50 girls playing.  It's very interesting and very special to see those kids playing, and I believe that we could have more professionals in the future.

Q.  Can you mention some names?
LORENA OCHOA:  It's hard to mention names.  Right now what we have is two professionals that have the best opportunity to be on the LPGA is Tanya Dergal and Sophia Sheridan.  They are really close to being on the LPGA.  Hopefully they continue trying and working hard, and we'll see them maybe in the next year.

Q.  Have you ever played at La Costa, which is the site of the LPGA Classic?  And if you have, what are your thoughts on that course?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, I've never played there.  It will be the first time for me.

Q.  But you probably have some strong memories of playing in San Diego all those years you played at the Junior World.  When you look back on that time, does anything really stick out, all those years you played at the Junior World in San Diego?
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, for sure, those were some of my best memories.  That's why I'm here today.  I remember those tournaments very well, winning and being there with all the players and my parents.  They used to come every year to watch me play.  That's what gave me the motivation to keep playing and to really make me love the game.
    You know, those are great memories.  I always keep them on the top of my list, and I'm excited to go back and be in the area.

Q.  I didn't see your schedule, but I'm just wondering if Canada is on it.  And number two, you've been coming up here for years; I'm just wondering if you have seen that tournament grow considerably since you first started coming up here.
LORENA OCHOA:  Yes, I will be playing for sure.  It's a tournament that I love to go.  I think CN has done a wonderful job just getting more fans and putting a top tournament together.  I think we all agree with that.  It's just wonderful to see the volunteers and the sponsors and the community to get involved and help.  I have nothing to say but good things.  It's been a great experience.  We'll be there later in the summer.

Q.  Have you ever played in Winnipeg?
LORENA OCHOA:  No, never.  I'm excited.

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Photo Credit: © 2011 US Womens Open

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