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Golf - 11. February 2009.

Ochoa vows wedding wont end golf career

 



By Tim Maitland

The world's top female golfer, Lorena Ochoa, has pledged that her recently announced engagement won't lead to her quitting the sport.

Ochoa vows wedding won\'t end golf career


Speaking from her home in Guadalajara during a publicity commitment for the US$2 million HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore, where she'll defend her title in the first week of March, the 27-year-old Mexican, said her plans to marry AeroMexico CEO Andres Conesa in December will not mark the end of a career that has seen her dominate the LPGA over the past three years.

"I think I'm going to be playing golf for the next four or five years. I'm not going to retire any time soon. I promise that. He's very supportive and I promise; I'm going to keep playing. I promise I'll be playing," said Ochoa, who has made no secret of her desire to start a family and who has also previously said that she would continue to play golf when she did so. Ochoa's pledge will be a relief to the world of women's golf, which would not want to lose another superstar following last year's retirement of Annika Sorenstam.

The world number one will be making her only visit to Asia this year having decided to skip five LPGA events in October and November to prepare for her own tournament in Guadalajara and the impending nuptials. She insists that there are two very good reasons why preparing for the celebration will not interfere with her first priority of the season - defending her HSBC Women's Champions title - or her subsequent performances; the first one being that she needs to take something to the altar with her.

"I think it will be more a motivation than a distraction. And I know it's my last season before I get married so I have to finish good," she laughed.

Lorena's other reason why the wedding won't get in the way of taking on the elite field of champions from around the world at Tanah Merah is that she's dumped all the responsibility for the festivities on her sister Daniela who is a professional wedding planner.

"I've told her make sure you do something nice and I promise I will arrive on the day!" she explained with another giggle.

"You know I'd like to be involved, but I trust my sister a lot and I think everything is going to be a lot easier. She is an expert. Daniela and her best friend have done many, many beautiful weddings here in Guadalajara some for my relatives… my cousins. She's very good. I'm happy for that. It's more special because she's going to be very involved. She's going to help me pick the flowers and, of course, my dress and the music. It's nice for it to be inside the family," she added.

"We're trying to decide if it's going to be a small wedding or a big wedding. It's something that we don't know yet, because if it's going to be big it is going to be really big!"

The two-time Major winner, whose relationship with Conesa has set both firmly amid their country's "A-list" celebrities, also revealed she has no qualms about instantly becoming a second mother to her fiancée's three children – aged from 12 to six – from a previous marriage.

"I always believed I'd have a big family, so I guess I'm going in the right direction because I'll already have three," she joked.

"I get on really well with them. Lately we've started to hang out and spend more time on holiday together. We actually went last week on a little vacation together. It's been good. Actually I've been very lucky. They're very nice kids. It's a little bit easier because they like to play golf."

Ochoa laughs when reminded how many famous children's stories, including Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel feature an evil step-mother, before taking an a more solemn tone.

"You know this is a very serious topic," she says.

"For sure, I'm going to be very positive. It's going to be a blessing; being able to be close to them and to help them and love them."   

In the shorter-term Ochoa is looking forward to getting back to Singapore to defend her HSBC Women's Champions crown. The tournament, greeted by officials and players alike as instantly one of the top events on their calendar, was won in a stunning fashion, as Ochoa left a world-class group of in-form players including Sorenstam, Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb trailing a clear eleven shots behind her.

"It was a great week. For sure it was spectacular," she recalls.

"I had a really good pre-season, I worked really hard and when I got to Singapore everything just went in the right direction. I hope it's the same this year!"

This year won't be the same in one sense, because when Ochoa started her season with that dominant HSBC Women's Champions performance, heralding the start of a run of five victories in six tournaments, her closest rivals in the world rankings were Sorenstam and Webb. A year later the pack nipping at her heels are a bunch of 20-somethings led by Taiwan's Yani Tseng, Creamer and Korean sensation Ji-Yai Shin.

"I think that's great. I'm really excited by that. I think new faces and young players, great rookies… Paula Creamer, Susan (Pettersen)… I think it'll be a great year," she said.

"I think probably the best year for the tour. It'll be great for the fans and the media having some new faces. I'm really excited."  


 

Lorena Ochoa interview

 

Q: First of all congratulations on your engagement!

A: Thank you!

 

Q: Have you started planning already?

A: I'm very lucky because my sister Daniela is a wedding planner. My sister and her best friend have done some beautiful weddings in Guadalajara. I've told her make sure you do something nice and I promise I will arrive on the day! (laughs)

 

Q: You're so lazy!

A: You know I'd like to be involved, but I trust my sister a lot and I think everything is going to be a lot easier.

 

Q: And Daniela is an expert?

A: She is an expert. Daniela and her best friend have done many, many beautiful weddings here in Guadalajara some for my relatives… my cousins. She's very good. I'm happy for that. It's more special because she's going to be very involved. She's going to help me pick the flowers and, of course, my dress and the music. It's nice for it to be inside the family.

 

Q: Will this be the biggest wedding she's ever done?

A: We don't know yet. We're trying to decide if it's going to be a small wedding or a big wedding. It's something that we don't know yet, because if it's going to be big it is going to be really big! (laughs)

 

Q: And when you get married you'll become a mother immediately! You're fiancée already has three children.

A: Yes, yes! I always believed I'd have a big family, so I guess I'm going in the right direction because I'll already have three.

 

Q: How old are they?

A: The oldest is thirteen - he'll be thirteen next week – and then 10 and then six.

 

Q: Do you get on well with them?

A: Yes, I get on really well with them. Lately we've started to hang out and spend more time on holiday together. We actually went last week on a little vacation together. It's been good. Actually I've been very lucky. They're very nice kids. It's a little bit easier because they like to play golf. It's going to be, practically every day, sport. I'm very excited.

 

Q: You know in English we have many children stories all about evil step-mothers?

A: (laughs). But you know this is a very serious topic. For sure, I'm going to be very positive. It's going to be a blessing; being able to be close to them and to help them and love them.   

 

Q: I know some golf fans and golf writers are worried that once you are married you will disappear and stop playing golf.

A: I think I'm going to be playing golf for the next four or five years. I'm not going to retire any time soon.

 

Q: Is that a promise?

A: I promise that. He's very supportive and I promise; I'm going to keep playing. I promise I'll be playing.

 

Q: Your performance at the HSBC Women's Champions was amazing (she won by eleven shots) and your caddie David Brooker told me "it was a freak week" for your putting.

A: It was a great week. For sure it was spectacular. I had a really good pre-season, I worked really hard and when I got to Singapore everything just went in the right direction. I hope it's the same this year.

 

Q: Last year when you came to Singapore your main rivals in the rankings were Annika and Karrie Webb. This year, in comparison, you have a bunch of children chasing you!

I think that's great. I'm really excited by that. I think new faces and young players, great rookies… Paula Creamer, Susan (Pettersen)… I think it'll be a great year. I think probably the best year for the tour. It'll be great for the fans and the media having some new faces. I'm really excited.  

 

Q: This year, knowing all of the exciting things happening in your personal life, do you think it will make it easier to forget the occasional bad shots?

You know, golf is my priority. My personal life… hello? Aaaaagh, sorry, I dropped the phone!

I think it will be more a motivation than a distraction. And I know it's my last season before I get married so I have to finish good (laughs)

 

Photo Caption:

SINGAPORE - MARCH 02: Lorena Ochoa of Mexico with the winners trophy after the final round of the HSBC Women's Champions at the Tanah Merah Country Club on March 2, 2008 in Singapore. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

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