In recognition to her contributions to women’s golf, former University of Arizona golfer, Lorena Ochoa , was rewarded the Executive Women’s Golf Association Leadership Award in Las Vegas.
Ochoa, 30, was chosen for the annual award by the EWGA to recognize her outstanding contributions to women’s golf and paving the way for other female golfers. According to the EWGA Web site, Ochoa’s dedication to the game has inspired others to follow in her footsteps.
A native of Guadalajara, Ochoa, was the world’s No. 1 female golfer for 157 weeks in a row and has the distinction of being the first Mexican-born golfer female or male to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
While at Arizona in 2001 and 2002, she won NCAA Player of the Year awards. She finished runner-up at both the 2001 and 2002 NCAA National Championship. She was named to the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) 2001 All-America First team.
Ochoa has a long history of success, as she won the 2001 Pac-10 Women’s Golf Championships, was named Pac-10 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year in 2001 and was All Pac-10 First team in 2001 and 2002. Ochoa took over as the women’s top female golfer in the world shortly after another former Arizona standout — Annika Sorenstam — held the No. 1 ranking from 2001 to 2005.
One of the most memorable wins in her career was the 2008 victory in the Kraft Nabisco when she led about two dozen people into a raucous celebration in Poppie’s Pond that included a mariachi band.
Ochoa retired at age 28 in 2010 because she did not want to sacrifice her family life and a prosperous existence away from the course.
“When I said that I will stop playing competitive golf and attending tournament on the LPGA, right away (people said) come on, when are you getting back, when are you getting back, when are you getting back?” she said during a press conference at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I am not going to get back. It’s something that I don’t see myself going in. I will play maybe one British Open, just to get back and have fun. But I don’t see myself playing full time again.”
Today, Ochoa spends a majority of her time focused on more charitable endeavors. However, she remains active with the sport as a leader of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation. The foundation promotes golf for youths with a primary focus in the United States and particularly Southern California.
Her foundation operates La Barranca, a primary school in Guadalajara with 250 underprivileged students. In 2008, the foundation opened a high school with 21 freshmen students. The plan is to add a new class each year and then construct a high school building that’s separate from the primary school.