GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — The world’s top-ranked female golfer will try to give her hometown fans a reason to celebrate when the first Lorena Ochoa Invitational begins Thursday at the Guadalajara Country Club.
Ochoa, who began playing at the club 21 years ago, has already won two of the nine tournaments she has played in Mexico. But she said this one will be special, not only because the tournament carries her name, but because it’s the first one she will play in her hometown.
“It’s a dream come true, that’s for sure,” Ochoa said. “I will not hesitate to say that this will be the biggest tournament of my career. I’m pretty sure that everybody will be rooting for me, and I just know that things will be fine. I’m looking forward to it.”
Ochoa tees off a few minutes past noon Thursday alongside Sophia Sheridan and Paula Creamer, who follows her in the Player of the Year rankings and on the money list. The Mexican has 314 points and $2.7 million in earnings, while Creamer has 170 points and $1.8 million.
The field also features Annika Sorenstam, Angela Stanford and Suzann Pettersen – all trying to spoil Ochoa’s homecoming.
She won the Corona Championship in 2006 and 2008 in Mexico, but is coming off a disappointing 14th-place finish in the Kapalua Classic.
Ochoa started this season with six wins in her first nine tournaments, then went through an eight-tournament drought that ended with her victory in the Navistar LPGA Classic.
“It’s been a good season. I really believe that,” Ochoa said. “Things started really well, and then things didn’t go the way I hoped. But hey, you can’t win every tournament. That’s just the way golf is.”
Ochoa has 18 top-10 finishes in 21 events this season, including seven of her 24 career victories. This week, the galleries will be packed by fans who want to see her win again.
“Let the mariachis be heard in Guadalajara,” Ochoa said of the local musicians, “because I want to win this tournament.”