The golf world was stunned when she announced her retirement on April 20, but Ochoa reiterates now what she said six months ago: "I just achieved what I wanted to achieve [on the LPGA Tour] and I wanted to retire the No. 1 in the world."
Jaime Diaz, senior writer for Golf Digest, disapproved of her going-out-on-top mentality.
"When I first heard that Lorena Ochoa was retiring at 28, I had two unkind thoughts about this exceedingly kind person," Diaz wrote, in the July issue of Golf Digest. "First, that she was chickening out on the hard part of being No. 1. Second, that she would be sorry.
While it's not entirely clear whether Ochoa is, indeed, sorry about her decision, it does seem as though she's had to convince herself that she made the right choice.
"I would be lying if I said (I don't miss competitive golf)," Ochoa said on Wednesday. "I'm also super happy. It's just nice to be home. Every day it appears more to me I've made the right decision at the right time."
Bill Fields, senior editor for Golf World, wrote this column soon after Ochoa's announcement, recounting several athletes who "depart[ed] on their terms, before they reach[ed] the autumn of their skills."
And Ron Sirak, executive editor of Golf World, wrote this column on the day of Ochoa's retirement, delving into the complicated reasons a young woman would bow out on top of her game.
"Lorena Ochoa is a woman who has her priorities straight," Sirak wrote. "Right now, for whatever reason, golf does not fit into the picture. Perhaps it will again someday. And if she does return, it will be for the right reasons."
The 28-year-old former world No. 1, who stepped away from competitive golf earlier this season, will be awarded with the USGA's 2011 Bob Jones Award for her accomplishments on the golf course and her foundation's work in aiding underprivileged children in her native Mexico. The news was announced in a press release by the USGA on Tuesday.
(Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
The Jones Award, given annually since 1955, is the USGA's highest honor "in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf." Ochoa will received the award Feb. 5 at the USGA's Annual Meeting in Phoenix.
"We've come to recognize Lorena for the contributions she has made to humanity much more so than for the golf trophies she's taken home," said Jerry Tarde, chairman and editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, and a member of the USGA's Bob Jones Award Committee. "She has become a one-person grow-the-game program not just in Mexico but in all of Latin America."
Ochoa won 21 times on the LPGA, including two majors, before her retirement. Her Lorena Ochoa Foundation runs an elementary school in her hometown of Guadalajara with an enrollment of 250 underprivileged students.
"I play golf for a reason and the foundation is the main reason," Ochoa said in the release. "That was my motivation to keep playing and practicing for many years."
Since her retirement, Ochoa continues to play in exhibitions, and also hosts her own LPGA tournament, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, to be played in Guadalajara Nov. 11-14. She also said she is busy writing a book.
"People ask when I'm going to play again and I tell them I play every day with my father and friends," she said. "Golf will always be a part of my life."
-- Golf Digest Digital Staff
"Broad-spectrum sunscreen should be worn, rain or shine, 365 days a year," said Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, a board-certified dermatologist. "Ultraviolet radiation can penetrate the clouds, and even our car windows, so adequate protection is always essential."
The Women's Dermatologic Society developed a program in 2004 called Play Safe in the Sun, which travels to several LPGA and Futures Tour events throughout the season. At each tournament, dermatologists and volunteers provide free skin screenings (up to 325 of them during a single tournament), sun damage assessments, samples of broad-spectrum sunscreen and educational materials to fans, volunteers, players, and caddies. Play Safe in the Sun will cap off their season at this week's CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.
"Thirty-eight percent of the people we see are referred to their own dermatologists for further diagnosis or biopsy of suspicious sites on the skin," said Nancy FitzGerald, director of communications for the Women's Dermatologic Society.
Paula Creamer, one of several top-ranked Americans in this week's field, says she regularly gets her skin checked by a dermatologist, and reapplies her sunscreen at least three times a day.
"I apply sunscreen every two hours, and I use a lotion with SPF 100," said Creamer. "Then when I am on the course, I use a spray sunscreen because being out on the course, I can't wash my hands."
But she also always wears a cap and sunglasses, an extra step that Dr. Adrienne Stewart and Dr. Michel McDonald, co-chairs of the Women's Dermatologic Society service committee, say is essential to preventing skin damage.
"Relying just on sunblock may give the athlete a false sense of safety," said Stewart. "SPF clothing, hats and sunglasses should also part of the skin protection plan. Sunscreen only prolongs the amount of time you can be exposed to UVA and UVB rays without incurring as much damage as you would without the block."
For the third consecutive year, Badreshia-Bansal will team up with her husband, Dr. Vivek Bansal, a board-certified plastic surgeon, to oversee the screenings given at the tournament this week. Badreshia-Bansal offers these tips for all golfers:
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to all sun exposed areas at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don't forget the lips, ears and neck.
- Reapply the sunscreen every nine holes (or every two hours).
- Protect your lips with sunscreen and your eyes with UV protective sunglasses.
- Replenish your sunscreen supply once a year, since sunscreens have an expiration date.
- Seek shade whenever you can.
- Wear sun protective clothing: long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and broad-brimmed hats (not just baseball caps).
-- Stina Sternberg