Lorena Ochoa Departs The University Of Arizona To Pursue Professional Career
May 25, 2002
SEATTLE, Wash. - University of Arizona golfer Lorena Ochoa will forego her remaining collegiate eligibility to pursue her dream of becoming a professional golfer, she announced Saturday. She leaves behind an unprecedented legacy of accomplishments.
'I feel that the time is right for me to go professional,'' Ochoa said. 'It has always been my dream to become a pro golfer and I think I am ready for that. My time at the University of Arizona has been great, I've enjoyed playing college golf and being with my teammates. I wouldn't trade my time at Arizona for anything.'
A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, Ochoa won 12 titles in only 20 tournament appearances, giving her a winning percentage of .600. She leaves the University of Arizona as the most decorated golfer in the school's history, male or female. Ochoa's 12 titles place her third on an unofficial list of most individual career championships won by an NCAA female golfer.
Lorena's two years here have been wonderful,' said head coach Greg Allen about Ochoa's departure. It has been a pleasure to coach such a talented athlete and tremendous person. We, the entire Arizona golf program and myself, wish her continued success as she begins this new chapter in her golf career.
While at the University of Arizona, Ochoa set numerous records and was honored with sundry awards and accolades. In November 2001, the Mexican government awarded her 'El Premio Nacional de Deportes' or National Sports Award to make Ochoa the youngest individual to ever receive the honor and the first golfer to be so honored. Her freshman season saw her named 2001 National Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year and one of four finalists for the prestigious Honda Award for women's golf. She also earned the Golfstat Cup in 2001 (71.33) and 2002 (70.13) with the nation's lowest scoring average, both marks set NCAA records.
Peppered throughout the Arizona record books, Ochoa's name ranks beside former Wildcat greats and current LPGA stars Annika Sorenstam, Marisa Baena and Jenna Daniels. The 5-foot-7-inch star owns the Arizona record for low 54-hole score and has carded two of the best four rounds in school history. Her career scoring average (70.73) set an NCAA record.
Perhaps most prominent and impressive of all her achievements was Ochoa's NCAA record seven-tournament winning streak. The string ranks second among all recognized winning streaks in golf, only Byron Nelson owns a longer streak (11). Including the streak, Ochoa won eight collegiate tournaments during her sophomore season to set an NCAA record for most individual wins, eclipsing the mark of six set by Brandie Burton of Arizona State in 1989-90.
As a freshman, Ochoa made her collegiate debut at the 2000 NCAA Fall Preview where she tied for ninth place. Following that performance, she did not place higher than third throughout the remainder of her NCAA career; taking first place on 12 occasions, second place five times and third place just once. Ochoa closed her freshman campaign by tying for the NCAA individual championship, but fell in a sudden-death playoff.
Her sophomore campaign was highlighted by leading her youthful Wildcat team to a second-place finish at the 2002 NCAA Championships. Ochoa punctuated her collegiate career by claiming the 2002 National Golf Coaches Association Player of the Year Award and being named to the 2002 NGCA All-America First Team.
'As good as Lorena Ochoa is at golf, she is 10 times as good a person off the golf course,' Allen said. 'Everyone who has ever encountered Lorena loves her.'
Lorena Ochoa - At A Glance
Career Scoring Average: 70.73
2000-01: 71.33, set an NCAA record for single season scoring average
2001-02: 70.13, set a new NCAA record for single season scoring average
Tournaments Won (12):
Comcast Dick McGuire Invitational Sept. 21-23, 2000
Golf World Invitational Nov. 3-5, 2000
Wildcat Invitational Feb. 19-21, 2001
2001 Pac-10 Championships April 23-25, 2001
NCAA Fall Preview Sept. 24-26, 2001
Oregon State Invitational Oct. 8-10, 2001
Hawaii Fall Invitational Oct. 30-31, 2001
Auburn Tiger-Derby Invitational Nov. 9-11, 2001
TRW Regional Challenge Feb. 11-13, 2002
Wildcat Invitational Feb. 25-26, 2002
PING/ASU Invitational April 5-7, 2002
NCAA West Regional May 9-11
Honors, Awards and Accolades
El Premio Nacional de Deportes - winner 2001
NGCA Player of the Year - 2001, 2002
NGCA Freshman of the Year - 2001
NGCA First-Team All-American - 2001, 2002
Golfstat Cup for nation's lowest scoring average - 2000-01 (71.33), 2001-02 (70.13)
Honda Award for Women's Golf - finalist 2001
Pacific-10 Conference Freshman/Newcomer of the Year - 2001
All-Pac-10 Conference First Team - 2001, 2002
Rolex College Golfer of the Month - February 2001, November 2000, September 2000
- In 60 rounds of collegiate golf, Ochoa was at par or better in 47 rounds.
- Ochoa stands third on an unofficial ranking of most individual tournament titles won all-time.
- Ochoa is now the most accomplished golfer in Arizona history, male or female, winning 12 tournaments to eclipse former Wildcat greats Annika Sorenstam, Marisa Baena and Jenna Daniels.
- Ochoa competed in five LPGA events as an amateur while at Arizona and finished in the top 10 three times, including a tie for fifth at the 2002 Welch's/Circle K Championship in Tucson.
- Ochoa holds the Arizona record for low 54-hole total with a 10-under-par 206 at the 2001 Oregon State Invitational.
- Ochoa finished first or second in all but two tournaments of her collegiate career. She tied for ninth in her Arizona debut and tied for third in April 2001.