HOWARD WARD: Ochoa Likes Comparison To Tiger
There's a Tiger loose on the LPGA Tour these days, and its name is Lorena.
I'll admit that I've been a little reluctant to recognize Lorena Ochoa as the new Queen of Linksland. Well, maybe all those people who have been accusing me of being a little slow are right.
One thing's for sure, though. I have seen Lorena of 2008, and I'm a believer. You don't come out of the gate cold and win your first tournament of the season by 11 strokes without having some serious game.
Yeah, maybe all those wins last season didn't come just because Annika Sorenstam was nursing a sore neck. The neck is obviously better now, but that bruised ego must be smarting a little.
Anyone who thought that Ochoa was going to be intimidated by the resurrection of Sorenstam got a rude awakening last weekend. Count me among those whose alarm clocks went off.
I'm still hoping we're going to get some down-to-the-wire duels between the new ruler of the domain and Sorenstam. I know Annika can still play.
I knew Lorena could play, too. I just didn't realize how strong her game really can be. Shooting four rounds in the 60s your first time out is an amazing feat. When you're teeing it up in the final group on Sunday with an eight-shot lead, you look pretty darn good even when your playing companions are Annika and a girl in pink named Paula.
My biggest regret about the tournament was the way it was televised. Cramming a round of golf into an hour isn't going to win over any fans. I know they were playing in Singapore, but they fast-forwarded through everything but the commercials.
All too often we media types like to jump on bandwagons. A golfer shoots a few sub-par rounds and wins a couple of tournaments and we tend to think they're the greatest thing since titanium drivers.
Remember the hullabaloo we all made over Sergio Garcia when he first came out on the PGA Tour? Yeah, we shouted from our computers, this here Sergio is going to give that fellow named Tiger a serious run for No. 1.
Now, not only can't Sergio outplay Tiger, he can't even out-dress him. I'm convinced that whoever lays out Sergio's wardrobe is colorblind and fashion challenged.
But back to my horse of the week. Lorena, Lorena
Sorenstam put things in perspective when she said, "I'm glad it's over because I'm worn out. Sometimes you just play for second place. I can't remember the last time I had to do that, but it was just the way it happened this week."
But the former best player in the world isn't conceding the throne.
"Lorena's playing well," she said, "but it's nothing that's not achievable by any means."
Creamer, who was 13 strokes off the pace and took third place, didn't mind praising Ochoa after being paired with her all four days.
"Lorena played awesome," she said. "What are you going to do? This was her tournament. We have no idea what course she was playing out there but she played great."
Ochoa, who has become one of the most revered sports figures in Mexico, is enjoying her status.
"It wasn't easy," she said of what everyone else saw as a cakewalk, "but you never know how it's going to happen. Sometimes you play your best and someone else does something better.
"You know, it was great because I also had pressure. I wanted to keep pace and I didn't want to make mistakes."
Ochoa doesn't' even mind that she's being compared to Tiger Woods because of her dominance on Tour.
"We all want to be like him," she said. "We're in two different worlds, but when he won his first tournament this year by 10 shots, I had that in mind. You know, it can be done, and why not go and win my first tournament by 10? I just want to say that it's an honor to be compared to Tiger, and I'm going to try to go after him."
Watch your stripes, Tiger.
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