<
>

Golf legend Lorena Ochoa and her different course

Lorena Ochoa won the 2007 Women's British Open at St. Andrews. Warren Little/Getty Images

The name of Lorena Ochoa will be written, officially, in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

"She will be our first Mexican-born Hall of Fame member," said Dave Cordero, director of communications at the World Golf Hall of Fame, on a press call announcing the honorees who will be inducted in 2017.

It's a historic milestone that matters to Ochoa, even if it matters less than something else in her life now -- motherhood.

The former No. 1 golfer on the LPGA tour has new priorities in her life, but she remains pleased with the legacy she left on the women's game. Two majors won, 27 LPGA tournament wins -- her career numbers are as impressive as Ochoa's impeccable shot placement.

Yet none of that adds up to the joy Ochoa feels living in Mexico City now with her husband, Andres, and their children. Even when reached by phone for an interview with ESPN's One Nacion in Spanish, the warmth in Ochoa's voice every time she mentioned her family was evident. Ochoa is also fluent in English.

"Pedro's four, and Julia's two, and my baby is eight months old," Ochoa said proudly. Her youngest, Diego, is too young yet to understand how famous his mother is in the world of golf, but the other two have started to grasp the concept. "They know what I do, and they understand."

Ochoa certainly doesn't burden her children with any pressure to play her preferred sport, however. "Pedro plays a little golf, but he also likes tennis. They're very normal kids, and perhaps in the future, they'll like golf even more."

It's a choice that Ochoa is leaving up to them.

"They're a lot more important than golf," Ochoa explained.

That was true even before they were born.

A prodigy from Guadalajara, Jalisco, who started playing at five and won her first state championship at the tender age of six, Ochoa was blessed with supportive parents, Javier and Marcela.

"They knew that I wanted to dedicate myself to golf," Ochoa said. "I knew I would have to work hard to develop professionally."

It was often lonely work.

"It was very unusual for a young girl to play golf," Ochoa admitted. "It wasn't a normal childhood. But I loved golf from the start, even when I was very little."

As a teenager, Ochoa's goal was to be the best in the world.

"When I was 13, 14, I realized that I wanted to play golf more than anything. It was an important decision, and I knew I needed to concentrate to make it happen. I needed to stop playing volleyball, basketball and make sure everything I did was to improve so that in my future, I could have a career in professional golf."

Ochoa moved to the United States, starring at the University of Arizona, winning a dozen collegiate tournaments. She then turned pro and by 2007, at only 27 years of age, Ochoa was ranked No. 1 in the world. Yet, close on the heels of that dream coming true was another Ochoa also cherished, though it directly opposed the first.

"I focused so hard and I worked so hard in training, with the idea that one day in the future, I could retire," Ochoa said. "I wanted to give it my best for all the time I was there, but I always had the idea to retire. It was always a motivation of mine."

She cried on the day she announced her retirement in 2010, but Ochoa charted her future away from the day-to-day grind of the tour.

"I still miss the competition, the excitement around a tournament, trying to win, the emotion, the energy," Ochoa noted. "But I don't really think about it, because I'm focused on the things I have now, and I'm happy."

Everything indicates this is so. It's not as if Ochoa turned her back completely on golf. She hosts the LPGA Tour every year at her Lorena Ochoa Invitational tournament, which takes place in 2016 from Nov. 10 to 13.

"I want it to be a competition for all Mexicans, as well as to especially thank all those who have always supported me," Ochoa explained. "I also hope that it's a tournament that the players enjoy and that it keeps growing."

She also continues to work closely with the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, participating in fundraisers to continue programs to educate children both academically and athletically.

"I still play in clinics or charity tournaments," Ochoa stated. "I'm also designing golf courses, some here in Mexico, which is new and exciting. I want to keep supporting golf in different ways."

“Yo siempre trato hacer todas las cosas bien hechas para que la gente lo vea, para que tengan a alguien que puedan seguir, siempre apoyando a los niños, los juveniles o mis amigas profesionales en el tour con un consejo o una ayuda,” Ochoa said in Spanish, explaining how she has always tried to do things well so people could see a positive example, helping kids and young players, as well as assisting her fellow tour pros with advice or support.

Ochoa was following the lead of other LPGA members, including Meg Mallon, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame along with Ochoa.

"Meg always helped me a lot," Ochoa recalled fondly. "She was always there to give advice and encouragement. I learned many things from her."

Mallon returned Ochoa's praise, extending it as well to the other 2017 Hall of Fame inductees, Davis Love III and Ian Woosnam.

"Lorena, Davis and Ian are great ambassadors to the game, and it's just great to be a part of this group," Mallon said.

These days, Ochoa is focused on helping her family grow up happy and healthy and hopes for the same for the game of golf in her beloved Mexico.

"It's beautiful to see the game continue to grow, especially in Mexico, with more players and fans," Ochoa said. "I think it's becoming more accessible to people as well. That needs to happen."