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Lorena Ochoa back to play her tournament
November 07, 2012

The second to last event of the 2012 season kicks off this week in Mexico at the Guadalajara Country Club where tournament host and 27-time winner on the LPGA Tour Lorena Ochoa makes her first appearance since 2010.

The fifth annual Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex and Jalisco highlights a star-studded field of 36 players vying for a $150,000 first-place prize from its $1 million purse. Scotland's Catriona Matthew looks to defend her title for her 5th career victory following a powerful performance at last year's event where she won by four-strokes over Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim. The 18-year veteran enters the week after adding her fifth straight top-10 finish to her résumé this season at the Sunrise LPGA Championship presented by Audi.

The field also consists of six of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings including No. 1 Yani Tseng, No. 2 Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Inbee Park.

Lewis is coming off her fifth-career LPGA victory at the Mizuno Classic where she came from a seven-stroke deficit to defeat second-round leader and JLPGA member Bo-Mee Lee. Lewis strengthened her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race to 214 points giving her a 58 point lead over Park, who leads the 2012 Official Money list with more than $2.1 million.

Tseng also had strong performances throughout the Asia swing with back-to-back third place finishes in Korea and Taiwan, finishing with a fourth-place finish in Japan.

Lorena Ochoa's accolades she has acquired on the golf course are insurmountable but what she has done for junior golf through her foundation is just as impressive. Yesterday, several kids from her foundation, the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, made a trip to Guadalajara Country Club to get a first-hand glimpse of Ochoa hitting a variety of golf shots, get her autograph, and ask questions.

"This clinic yesterday was a lot of fun," said Ochoa. "It was fun to be out there with the kids and I think they are so small a lot of times they don't know what to think but it was nice to see them out there having fun and see their parents get so excited about getting their kids involved in golf and grow to love the game. It is always fun to be able to do that and hopefully tomorrow the kids will come out with their parents and see the tournament."

The three-time Rolex Player of the Year stepped away from the game on April 20, 2010 at the young age of 28 to give her undivided attention to starting a family and along the way; she began the Lorena Ochoa Foundation which is designed to give children and adults the opportunity to partake in family based health, fitness, education and inclusion programs delivered through family golf activities.

While Ochoa devotes the majority of her time to her family and foundation, the 27-time LPGA Tour winner returns to play the tournament she hosts after a year break in 2011.

"I´m very happy to be playing," said Ochoa. "I´m glad to be back playing good golf and I'm excited for tomorrow to be playing the first round of the tournament and to all of you thanks for coming."

Despite her excitement to play in this week's event in front of a hometown crowd, do not expect to see Ochoa with a full-time schedule on the LPGA anytime soon.

"I wouldn't change this for anything," said Ochoa. "I'm happy with what I'm doing I don't see myself again on the LPGA tour it's a tough schedule, I'm happy having a soon and hopefully our family will grow next year."

This week's Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco is set to play on the infamous Guadalajara Country Club and according to former champions Michelle Wie and Angela Stanford, the course ranks a favorite amongst many LPGA Tour players.

The course and tournament holds a significantly important place in Wie's heart as it is the exact location where she hoisted her first LPGA trophy after her victory in 2009. While she raved about the pristine condition of the golf course, she also acknowledged the tasty foods and supportive crowds.

"Nothing is really different," said Wie of the difference between when she won and now. "The weather is perfect, the guacamole still tastes really good, and the people are great. I think the one thing that has been different every year is the amount of people coming out and watching the event. It's great to see the golf course in perfect condition."

Stanford, who became the first winner of the event in its inaugural year in 2008, is honored to not only be the first champion but to play on a golf course that is always in above par condition.

"I think this is one of the best golf courses we play on our schedule," said Stanford. "I feel very honored that I got to be the first winner and catch everyone off guard a bit."

When Wie was asked to summarize this week's tournament in one word, the two-time LPGA winner summed it up perfectly with, "classy".

"My one word would be classy," said Wie. "I think this event is very classy, I think the way Lorena and Alejandro (Ochoa) handle the tournament. Like Angela said the course. It´s first class from the hotel where we stay to the course to the tequila it's a classy event."

With only two events remaining on this year's LPGA Tour schedule, defending champion Catriona Matthew is still in search of her first victory this season. If her play as of late is any indication as to how this week will unfold for the four-time LPGA winner, look for her to be in the hunt down the stretch on Sunday.

Matthew's confidence was sky rocketed after her victory at the Ladies Irish Open in August and since the victory, she has finished in the top-10 in five out of seven tournaments and notched two fourth place finishes and runner-up in the recent Asian swing.

"The last couple of months I've been playing really well," said Matthew. "I had a slow start to the year but it's come together with the win in Ireland during the summer that really boosted my confidence and I´ve played well the last few weeks in Asia. So I look forward to these last two events of the year and hopefully just move up to that first place.

Last year, Matthew earned a four-stroke victory over Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim and the memories of the victorious week are still fresh in the N. Berwick Scotland native's mind.

"To come back and play the golf course I can remember some of the shots I hit from last year. I´ve always enjoyed this golf course. It´s kind of an old fashioned golf course you just can't bomb it out there all the time. You have to hit different shots you have to place your ball and obviously putt well on the greens so hopefully I can play well again this year."

With this week's field featuring players from 14 different countries, the thought on many people's minds instantly go to golf making its triumphant return to the Olympics in 2016.

When Angela Stanford was asked if she could see herself being a part of the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, she was instantly overcome with chills.

"Well I got chills when you said that so I would venture to say all of us have thought about it," said Stanford. "I would have jumped ship a long time ago. I'm 35 so just the idea of being in the Olympics would be pretty cool so I'm going to take a chance and hang around for four more years."

While Stanford is excited to think about the opportunity of competing in the Olympics, I.K. Kim knows she has to work hard if she wants to make the competitive South Korean team.

"Representing my country would be an honor," said Kim. "I feel I'm on the LPGA Tour and I don't go home very often and I definitely need to push myself because making the team there is a lot of competition as a South Korean so I better get started now."

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