Backspin: Lorena Ochoa wins after time off
It was a week of numbers for Lorena Ochoa. The No. 1 player in the women's game returned to the Navistar Classic after a month off, during which she spent a lot of time with her misbehaving putter. Ochoa was looking to break a string of seven starts without a win. The trend had caused some whispering since it directly followed a streak of six triumphs in nine starts that included a run of four straight Ws. At RTJ Golf Trail in Prattville, Ala., Ochoa, after opening with rounds of 67, 67 and 69, found herself tied for the lead with Louise Friberg. It was the 25th time in her six-year career that the 26-year-old Ochoa held at least a share of the lead going into the final round, and the 18th time she delivered the goods, although on this occasion it required a closing 70 and then a par on the second playoff hole to defeat Cristie Kerr and Candie Kung. Ochoa's closing ability (72%) brings to mind that other No. 1, Tiger Woods. While Ochoa's numbers are certainly impressive, they, like those of so many golfers, don't hold up when compared with Woods's. The Gimpy One is 44-3 (93.61%) when holding a share of the 54-hole lead. He also has 65 wins in 222 career starts (29.27%) and an 11-1 record in playoffs. Ochoa, for the sake of comparison, is 24 for 146 overall (16.44%) and only 2-5 in playoffs. That is nowhere near the most painful part of the accounting, though. In her career Ochoa has won $13,025,264. In 2007 alone Woods won $10,867,052.
• He turned 50 on Sept. 23, so Larry Mize made his Champions tour debut at last week's SAS Championship, where the four-time winner on the PGA Tour learned that padding the retirement account can be tough work. At Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, N.C., Eduardo Romero won his fourth Champions tour title with a 15-under 205. Although he was under par in every round (70-71-71-212), Mize finished a distant 27th, good for only $17,045. Meanwhile Jay Haas, who started the week $2,102 behind Bernhard Langer for the top spot on the money list, finished 17th (75-67-68-210) and earned $28,805. Langer limped in at 45th (72-72-71-215) to take home a $7,350 check, meaning Haas is now the top dollar man, with $1,677,626 for the season. Don't worry about Langer, though: He continues to lead the money list on the European senior tour and still has a chance to be the first person ever to finish the season atop both lists.
• You would think these would be sad times for Y.E. Yang, Gavin Coles, Tag Ridings, Todd Hamilton, Brett Rumford and Marco Dawson. They finished 145th to 150th, respectively, in FedEx Cup points, meaning they just missed the top 144 and a spot in the playoffs. Even worse, none of them are in the top 125 on the money list, putting them on the fast track to Q school (except Hamilton, who's exempt courtesy of his win in the '04 British Open). Still, each of them just received a $32,000 bonus for making the top 150. Normally one would have to be a banking executive to be rewarded so nicely for such lackluster performance.