by Jeff Skinner
We all can ask ourselves why someone like Lorena Ochoa would call it quits at the absolute pinnacle of her career. A 28 year old golfer is just hitting their prime and to see one step away from the game causes you to stop and ask why? All you need to do is to read any of the quotes from Ochoa’s press conference to see that she couldn’t be at a better place in her life right now. She has accomplished her goals in golf and eagerly wants to move on to the next phase of her life: that of being a wife, mother and benefactor.
Quotes from Lorena’s press conference and interview with the LPGA:
“This is a very special day, full of happiness,” Ochoa said. “There are so many things that I will miss and this has not been an easy decision to make. But this is my moment and I dreamed of it this way.
“I am leaving the LPGA Tour as the top player, No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, so I am proud of myself and satisfied. I would like to thank so many people who have been by my side all these years, most of all my LPGA partners who welcomed me from my very first day on the Tour. When I started to play golf 23 years ago, I had the dream to become the best player in the world, to win many tournaments and this is why now is the best time to leave, full of great memories that I am going to share with my family for the rest of my life.”
I’m making this decision because all the elements are together. You know, to start, I always said that I wanted to play for some years, around ten years. And what I wanted to do is achieve my goals and to be the No. 1 player in the world. Retiring today or being at the top, you know, today is my anniversary for three years of being at the top in the Rolex World Rankings.
The second thing I always dreamed and I always wanted to finish here in Mexico. To be able to play my last tournament in front of my crowd, and in the moment of seeing them every day, and together to watch me playing my last tournament over here.
And third, well, finally, I just am ready to start a new life. You know, I just want to be a normal person. I just want to live like everyday things and be home, and be back with my family all the time that we lost in the last few years.
I’m ready to move on. You know, once you achieve your goals and you are at the top, it was good to me. But there are so many other things that I’d like to do. I’m really happy today, and I’m pleased. I’m 100% complete. It’s great news and I’m super happy.
I’m thanking everyone for their support and all the fans and for the LPGA, and people that have been watching my golf and following my career.
“I want to tell you I am very happy and I am feeling very peaceful,” she said. “The best present from God has been my foundation. My commitment to Mexican society is strong. Now, I am going to have more time with you.”
We don’t have to look too far to find the last leading golfer to retire near their prime. Annika Sorestam retired two years ago at age 37 while she was still contending for the top spot on tour. She also wanted to start her family. Jim Brown and Barry Sanders, both NFL running backs, left in the prime of their careers. Bryon Nelson at 34 called it quits to go home to live on his ranch only one year removed from his eleven straight wins.
The retirement that may compare closest to Ochoa’s could be that of Bobby Jones. Jones left competitive golf when he was also 28 and had just completed his grand slam. He was no doubt the best in the game at the time but realized that his personal life demanded more of his time. Jones left golf to raise his family and earn a living as a lawyer. Being the greatest amateur golfer brought fame but no fortune for Jones. He was a man who was comfortable with his choices, much like Ochoa is.
Ochoa said it right, “This is a day full of happiness.” Isn’t that what it should be all about? Money and titles and fame can all be good things but being happy is really what it is all about. To see Ochoa at a place in her life where she can leave the pressures of tour and travel is a wonder. Few people at such a young age can say they are truly happy. That’s the best gift a parent can give their child: knowing what makes them happy. Hopefully Ochoa will be able to pass it on to her children.
The tour will miss her kind ways and gentle smile and she was as good an ambassador to the game as anyone. Here’s hoping her new life will bring her all the health and happiness she deserves.