by Jeff Skinner
This is a big week in golf. Tiger and Phil make their first appearance since The Masters with a world class field at the Quail Hollow Championship. In the soap opera that has become Tiger’s season he’ll try and keep his world number one ranking as Phil tries to take him down. Despite what Woods says about his schedule not being set it appears he is back to being a full time golfer. There was no mention of “therapy” at his press conference and with his wife spending time in Sweden it looks like Tiger can focus his attention on golf. Phil looks to continue his run he started at Augusta and a win this week or next week at The Players could make him number one in the world. Can we start thinking “Grand Slam” yet? All the pros love this course and there is talk that The PGA of America is contemplating holding a PGA Championship here. The Golf Channel carries the action at 2:00 pm EST.
The number one female player in the world is saying goodbye this week at The Tres Marias Championship in Mexico and we won’t even get to see it. Lorena Ochoa is making her last planned start on the LPGA Tour and there is no television coverage in the United States. That is one of the problems that new commissioner Michael Whan is dealing with this year: inconsistent television coverage. This weekend instead of seeing an emotional Ochoa say farewell to the tour in her home country where she is worshiped we will be shown The Mojo 6 tournament that took place two weeks ago. Can anyone figure out why the LPGA signed up for that deal? The Mojo 6 looked like an interesting gig, with its “Raceway Golf” format but who cares when it is two weeks old.
The fact that Ochoa is walking away from golf in her prime is a body blow for the LPGA Tour. Having no television coverage is rubbing salt in the wound. Ochoa is a special player. She had the skills to be the best at her craft. She had the approachable manner that made her a world ambassador for women’s golf. And she had the humility to never think she was bigger than the game, a tournament or any other player for that matter. Ochoa is not just a special player, she’s a special person and there won’t be many dry eyes on Sunday as she walks up the eighteenth to finish her professional career. She’ll be missed on tour, but she’s ready for a new phase in her life and is doing so on her own terms. That’s rarely seen for such an accomplished athlete.