Women's British Open: Lorena Ochoa on her St Andrews win
THE script was perfect, the best player in the world winning the first women’s Major at the Home of Golf.
In April of 2007 Lorena Ochoa overtook Annika Sorenstam at the top of the world rankings but the Major victory was yet to come.
There had been championships where the Mexican had come within a whisker – Ochoa had 13 top 10s in her previous 21 efforts – but the 25 year old had still to break through.
At St Andrews the favourite opened with a six-under 67 and was never threatened thereafter, eventually winning by four shots.
Looking back now it is all the more sweet as, within three years, Ochoa had announced her retirement. Another Major had followed at the 2008 Kraft Nabisco and the World No 1 spot was still hers but she had had enough. The plan had always been to play for around 10 years and then concentrate on her foundation and family.
Life is very different these days. In December 2011 she gave birth to a baby boy,Pedro, and she is now four months pregnant with a second child. Here Lorena, in her own words, looks back on her very special and historic week.
Breaking the duck
“The win was meant to be. As soon as I got to St Andrews I felt very comfortable, you either love the course and have a good vibe or you think it’s the toughest and most difficult course you have ever played. I was very lucky that I felt very positive from the moment I got there.
The practice rounds and all the way to the tournament I felt very good.
I had good breaks and played some good recoveries so the more I think about the tournament the more I think it was meant to be.
I was always 100 per cent over shots and made a lot of good decisions. I played so well that the course was easy for me! It was one of those weeks where everything came off. If I could have picked one place to win a Major it would be at St Andrews.
The Major pressures
I never worried about not having won a Major, it was more what the media was talking about. Once you are playing you cannot think ‘I have been playing for this number of years and I haven’t won a Major’. I was never that way. I was very easy on myself and I always thought it would happen when it was a good time for me.
Being a professional you realise why they call them Majors and why everyone pays so much attention to them. I was close in a couple of US Opens and made some mistakes and that makes you more focused on winning one. You also have to be more patient because anything can happen in the last few holes and there are some big surprises on Sundays.
Everybody feels the pressure at Majors. At normal tournaments these things don’t happen. In Majors the drama is meant to be, you just have to keep your head.
When you lose the opportunity to win a Major it stays with you until you win one.
I only felt some relief when I had put my second shot on the final green and I could then enjoy the walk.
The Road Hole
We played it as a par 5 so mentally that was really helpful. I tried to take on the green a couple of times to the right-hand side and on the Sunday I had some fun by playing it left of the bunker. Once you are feeling under pressure, and with the wind and the rain, it is very easy to mis-hit it and get into trouble but even a six was OK as it was just a bogey.
I can remember hearing my name being announced on the 1st tee in front of the clubhouse and it was the most memorable shot in my career The opening 67
It has to be one of my best rounds. I can remember hearing my name being announced on the 1st tee in front of the clubhouse and it was the most memorable shot in my career.
To take advantage of the good weather was very special. One thing you have to do when you have finished and have hit a few balls is to have a hot shower because you have been so cold for so long. It is impossible not to sleep well as you are so tired. I always wake early and I like to take things slowly and have a nice breakfast.
Then I would walk to the course and take my time getting ready. It is very nice when you get to the Old Course early as there is nobody there, when you finish it is crazy and there are so many people there but in the morning everything is empty.
The 18th green and grandstands are empty so it gives you goosebumps.
The Auld Grey Toun
I had my family with me so we would have dinner and I remember having the banana bread pudding which I loved after my meal.
Then the Dunvegan pub was just around the corner and we would have some beer and talk with some people, they are some really fun memories. I was saying to my friends and husband that we will have to go there on holiday, spend some time there again and play some golf.
Playing in the wind
You don’t want to hit many balls in the wind as it can mess up your swing.
When playing in the wind you should always take one or maybe two extra clubs and hit it very easy, if you try and hit it hard it will be a disaster.
Otherwise it is just normal stuff, play the ball back in your stance and keep your hands low through the shot. The first time it will feel strange so it is worth practising it at the range. Growing up in Guadalajara I had no experience of playing in the wind as it is always the same weather so I would prepare for the first few tournaments in Hawaii by going to the beach in Mexico and hit balls by the sea.
Then I started travelling and got more experience and my swing and the way I hit the ball was always good.
Right now I am four months pregnant so I am not playing much, maybe once every two weeks. I do some work with the kids and my sponsors and when the baby is born I will play some more.
I don’t see myself coming back and playing a full schedule, maybe I will play the Kraft Nabisco and my own
tournament in Mexico, and maybe the Evian, but this would be in four or five years. I miss the good things; being with my friends in great places and having the opportunity to win tournaments on Sundays. At the same time I don’t miss many things; it can be a very hard life and can be very tough. I have a lot of admiration for today’s players and the talent and level of golf on the LPGA Tour is great and it is going in the right direction.
I had a timeline in my head and I was able to stick to that. I think that’s why I was able to do what I did.
Lady Golfer interviews Sarah-Jayne Boyd. Get the full story HERE