Golf legend Ochoa inducted into LPGA Hall of Fame after rule change
Lorena Ochoa. /AFP
Lorena Ochoa. /AFP
Mexican golf legend Lorena Ochoa was inducted into the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Hall of Fame on Tuesday after the tour lifted a 10-year requirement for players to be considered for enshrinement.
Ochoa won 27 LPGA titles, including two majors, but had been ineligible because her career only spanned 2003 to her 2010 retirement.
But the LPGA Hall of Fame committee dropped the 10-year requirement on Tuesday.
"It's an honor to receive this recognition. It was unexpected and very special to me," Ochoa said.
Beth Daniel, a Hall of Famer and committee member, said the 10-year rule dated from the tour's early days when it was felt players needed to play longer to support the LPGA.
"I think we've seen the tour is strong enough now that we don't need that requirement, so the committee decided to do away with it," Daniel said. "If you make the Hall of Fame in less than 10 years, more power to you. We shouldn't keep you out of the Hall of Fame for that reason."
Ochoa, inducted to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017, won major titles at the 2007 Women's British Open and 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
She was the 2003 LPGA Rookie of the Year and a four-time LPGA Player of the Year from 2006 to 2009, when she also won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Ochoa was world No. 1 for 158 consecutive weeks, the longest total and consecutive weeks atop the rankings.
Ochoa was in her backyard when she received a call with the news.
"I was taken aback and I was very moved. Never imagined," Ochoa said. "I walked around the garden several times and laughed to myself for several minutes."
The committee also inducted in the honorary category the original 13 founding members of the LPGA Tour.
"The 13 LPGA Founders were true pioneers whose collective passion, determination and foresight changed the course of history for women's sports," LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said. "It is time to welcome them all into the LPGA Hall of Fame, recognizing the indelible impact they made on the game."
LPGA players must win 27 points to earn Hall membership, one point coming from each win and award with two for major wins. The committee added Olympic wins for one point to the criteria.