Ochoa announces retirement from golf; since when did the LPGA become the WTA?
The world of women’s tennis is one that’s full of uncertainty. One day, Kim Clijsters is winning grand slam titles in her early 20’s; the next she’s announcing her retirement from the sport. Tennis is one of those sports where a player in their mid-20’s is considered over the hill when you compare them to the 16 and 17-year-old kids running around the courts.
The LPGA has never been that way. Players like Laura Davies and Nancy Lopez are the epitome of great golfers playing into their mid-40’s and 50’s. Hell, playing golf is a sport that’s supposed to be played when you’re old and cranky. It gets the men and women out of the house and saves millions of marriages every year. After all, nobody wants to be stuck doing yard-work at that age, right?
But the times of superstar golfers playing into the twilight years appear to be over. Last year, Annika Sorenstam announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 38, an age where most players on the PGA Tour tend to come into their own. (Just look at Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh.)
Now, Lorena Ochoa, just 28-years-old, is rumored to be retiring from the game on Friday. Could this become a new fad on the LPGA Tour?
OK, I know Sorenstam’s retirement at the age of 38 after 90 worldwide victories seemed “normal” (because it’s normal to retire from your job before the age of 40). After all, she was already talking up the idea of starting her ANNIKA golf school, as well as a family. I can understand why a player of her pedigree would step away from the game. She’d checked every accomplishment off her list.
Ochoa’s retirement is a bit more alarming. Aside from being the face of the LPGA Tour, she still was in the prime of her career, having won 2 major championships and 27 titles worldwide. While that’s a great golf resume, there’s still a lot of wear left on her career — especially one that just seemed to be taking off in recent years.
Like Sorenstam, Ochoa is made it clear that she’d step away from the game when she was ready to have a family. Her marriage to AeroMexico CEO Andres Conesa sparked talk that she’d want to start that family sooner rather than later.
As Beth Ann Baldry noted in her Golfweek article, Ochoa’s recent on-course frustrations were a telling sign that her love for the game was waning. So maybe it was time to hang up the spikes. As a longtime friend noted in the article, “She wasn’t having any fun, no motivation to practice. Why go on?”
I guess everything really was in place for Ochoa to retire from the sport. Even still, her retirement announcement on Friday would still be a complete shock for the LPGA.