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June 26, 2007

Lorena Ochoa


RHONDA GLENN: Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to welcome Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 ranked women's professional golfer in the world. Certainly has had an outstanding career. Had a very good chance to win this championship two years ago, and now she's here to give it another shot.
You played here before -- this is your first Women's Open at Pine Needles.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, this is my first.
RHONDA GLENN: What do you think about the course?
LORENA OCHOA: Hello. I think the golf course is in great shape. I think for sure it's playing like we all think of a Major championship, really tough on the greens. That's why I tried yesterday and today, my practice, kind of got a good picture of the green, especially from behind.
I make sure where the easiest place -- to miss or where you want to be to have a chance to save par when you're on one of those holes.
I'm feeling comfortable. I was a little bit tired yesterday, I'm a little bit tired today. But I think what is important is to get a good feel of the speed and be ready for the week.
RHONDA GLENN: You know you can win this championship. You had a very good chance at it a couple of years ago. What did you learn from that experience that you would carry forward into the Women's Open?
LORENA OCHOA: I know I can win, yes. I trust and believe in myself. I know where is my game and how far I can go. I did have a good chance a couple of years ago. I think I wasn't ready, that's probably why it didn't happen.
I'm ready today. I think this year has been different for me. I've been learning a lot in just the past experience in the last seasons. I made some big mistakes, but I think I'm ready to get a Major. It will be amazing to get the U.S. Open. So now that we're here this week, why not win on Sunday?

Q. How was your day today?
LORENA OCHOA: I forget the word. He's been teaching me some English. Delightful. (Laughter) with my English -- he says, don't say, it's good, it's super, say it's delightful.
RHONDA GLENN: What did you do today?
LORENA OCHOA: I guess because of the rain, and I'm going to go home and rest. I already played nine holes and got a good practice in the morning. It would be a good afternoon just to go and rest.

Q. You have a club deal with Ping, could you talk about that?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, I wanted to share that with you. We signed this week. I'm going to be part of the Ping family. So I'm very happy. I'm very excited. It's been something -- I've been playing Ping for a long time, for more than ten years. It looks like we will have it in the bag for the weekend. They had trouble shipping in the bag.
But I'm really happy. They've been really loyal to me. I've been loyal to them. A lot of good friends and a lot of good attention from their part, every time I go to Ping in the off-season they always take care of me. If there's some company that I'd like to represent, it would be them.
So thank you for the trust. Like I always do, I'll try to do my best and represent them in my best way.

Q. What are the clubs? How many?
LORENA OCHOA: 11 clubs. I use pretty much all of them. So I'm all set.
RHONDA GLENN: Speaking of endorsements, I notice the alligators, La Coste. Catherine La Coste is here this week. She's here this week. The only woman to ever win this championship as an amateur. She won in 1967. She's here with her husband and daughter. Have you met her before?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, and I play with her golf before. Every time I go to Evian we play in the Pro Am. Actually she speaks very good Spanish and the husband, too. We spend time together with our family and their family and talk a little bit. So that's good news for me. I didn't know she was here. I'd love to spend time with her.

Q. Do you plan to go down to the maintenance compound and say hello to your countrymen and women down there, as you often do?
LORENA OCHOA: I could, yes. I haven't heard anything from them. But I saw a lot of them today at the golf course. And I took my time to take pictures with them and sign autographs. We talked about the big soccer match on Sunday. Yes, if there is a chance, an opportunity, I will do it.

Q. When do you think you might do that?
LORENA OCHOA: You caught me by surprise. Maybe it could be early in the afternoon or maybe even tomorrow in the afternoon. We'll see.

Q. I was just wondering if you changed the make up of your bag at all? Did you add any more clubs, or is it the same as it has been?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, I'm going to be exactly the same. We're going to keep my sponsors, the Aero Mexico on the side, and El Rio on the front part of the bag.
And about the clubs, I'm putting -- not putting with a Ping putter, I have another one. So I'm -- they are not putting any pressure on me to change that. I'm going to take my time. I have to make sure I'm using the putter by 2008.

Q. Everything else is the same?
LORENA OCHOA: Everything is the same.

Q. Why the decision now after having played Ping so long to do the endorsement deal?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, I don't know finally they make up their mind. I needed to have my sponsors with me on the bag. So I couldn't get that out. I wanted to play Ping, but for the right reasons. I didn't want to go with any other company or just for the money. And finally this is the time where they agree with our proposal. We signed in the 2008 and decided, why not start right now. We are in the middle of the season, to get the second part. I'm really happy it works.

Q. You said earlier, about Cherry Hills, that you weren't ready. Why weren't you ready and is that just your way of accepting when things don't go well?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, I'm a player or a person that believes that things happen for a reason. If I didn't win that U.S. Open it's probably because I wasn't ready. Maybe not to deal with all the things, the cameras or that with winning a Major championship or just pressure on myself or different things. And for sure I didn't know as good as I know myself right now.
When you're under pressure and you have too much adrenalin, how quick my swing gets, and my hands. I should probably have taken a little more time and taken a couple of deep breaths. You only learn them with experience. So I always try to think that way, and probably for me because I wasn't ready.
I do want to say that I'm ready right now. I think I can't wait to get my first major and hopefully we can go from there.

Q. I guess, following that up a little bit, not everybody has the type of personality that wants to be the No. 1 player in the world. When did you know you wanted to do that or are you comfortable in that role of being No. 1 and having everybody else chase you?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, I knew I wanted to be No. 1 for a long time. I always tried to push myself as much as I can. And I have pretty high goals in junior golf and college and now in professional.
I didn't want to be here just to be -- not to do so good. I wanted to be here and make sure I'm on the top. It's been a long process. I never said, I'm going to get here, I'm going to be the best. You first have to respect and start getting your way little by little. I had my plan, my long-term goal of doing it in the next four or five years, to get to the No. 1 position. And that's what happened.
I don't think anything is easy, it's not about one or two weeks, it's been a long process, many, many weeks and good times and bad times. I'm just really glad that I'm there at the top. I like to be there.
I'm going to make sure I do everything it takes to stay there and keep working really hard, because there are so many good players trying to catch me. But I do like it in this position and hopefully I'm going to stay there for a long time.

Q. How much did last week mean to you as far as the way you won? You always say it's a little different every time you win or lose, when you're in contention. That one nothing was going right and you kind of gutted it out. Was it a special victory in that way?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, for sure. I think it helps a lot coming into this week, instead of being down and upset, I'm really happy and positive about my game. I think that eagle on 17 is something that saved a lot. It was perfect that day, just at the right time.
And also getting that first play, it was a special Sunday, I get that out of my way. And I think I am still improving my playoff score, I'm 4 to 1. But I'm getting there.

Q. First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on your victory at the Wegmans, you played so well at the playoff. So Ai Miyazato, you seem to be paired quite often. And Ai Miyazato said she really enjoys playing with you, also she learns a lot from you. Whenever you play with her, what do you think of her game?
LORENA OCHOA: I like it a lot. She's, for sure, one of my favorites. She's easy to be around. She's always smiling and always having a good time. I think she's a great player.
I admire her very much the way she practices, the way she handles herself with all the Japanese media. And the way she treats everybody, just inside and outside the golf course. I think she's very talented. I think sometimes they ask me, "Tell her how to win."
I think she'll be fine. She just need to be a little bit more patient and she will win soon. But she's always trying to find out what she needs to do to get better. "Lorena, why do you hit the ball so far?" We try to get stronger, every time, go to the gym. "Okay, I'm going to do that."
She's always looking how to improve or how to play better. She for sure has what a champion needs to have. So I wish her the best.

Q. Could you talk a little bit more about Majors? Do you feel like you play just as well in Majors as all other tournaments and it's been bad luck or is there something different that you haven't quite gotten over the hump yet in winning your first Major?
LORENA OCHOA: I try to treat every tournament the same. I try -- my idea is just to win every tournament I play, whether it's a small tournament or big tournament. Unfortunately, I only have four chances a year. The percentages or the chances are different.
But I think I'm ready, for sure. In Majors, you see the best players, experienced players. I think right now I consider myself a player that has been through a lot of things and I have experience. I'm not going to change anything. I just need to give myself a chance to do it. I think what is important is to be in a good position on Sunday and then we'll go from there.

Q. Who do you consider to be a bigger challenge to you, Annika or someone younger like Suzann Pettersen?
LORENA OCHOA: I don't really have just a name in my head. I think it will be not just fair to mention one name, because there is not only one or two, there are probably five or six players that are really tough and coming behind me. All of them want to be at the top and all of them know how to win.
So I'm just going to try to concentrate on me, making sure I don't get distracted or I don't lose focus. And have my goals every week. I think if I do good, be consistent every week, like I've been trying to do, I'll be fine at the end of the year or for the next few years.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what you're most proud of in your own game, what the No. 1 reason is that you are No. 1 right now?
LORENA OCHOA: I don't think I would say my game. I think golf is a lot more than going out to the course and shooting a 68. I'm very proud of making sure I know my priorities. Always very important to practice and to rest and to deal with the things outside of the golf course, the media and the sponsors and all of that. I think I've been very lucky to have a really good group to help me and manage me and always be good with that.
I think if you take too much then you start seeing bad results and bad tournaments. So I'm more proud of that and that's always in my head. I just never lose that. Have your priorities very clear. And then the things on the golf course are a lot easier.
RHONDA GLENN: How confident are you this week?
LORENA OCHOA: I am confident. I think I'm ready. There is nothing else I can say. But for sure it's too early to be talking about winning the tournament. You have to do it one step at a time. It's important to have a good start, to be in a good position on Friday, Saturday to get, if not in the last group, in the few of the last groups that are not too far from the leader. And then on Sunday morning we can be thinking about winning the tournament.
But right now it's just one step at a time and putting myself in a good position.
RHONDA GLENN: All facets of your game are under good control right now?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes. I'm pretty happy with my putting, with the speed. I think long putts is going to be a key this week. I hit my driver really good last week. That always helped me in Majors, playing from the fairway.
I think I'm ready. I have to believe I'm ready and I trust in my game.

Q. On your website you talk about the -- in Mexico there aren't a lot of people in Mexico who play golf regularly. How did you get into golf? What started you playing golf?
LORENA OCHOA: I started when I was five because of my dad. Growing up we lived just right there by the golf course. I used to go with him and with some friends just to watch him play on the weekend, on Sunday, and drive the cart. Like any other girl, I started picking up the club. I told my dad I'd really like to learn. Competition is what I really enjoy.
I played my first tournament when I was six in Guadalajara. My first national tournament when I was 7. The first tournament in the United States was when I was 8. Competition was what I enjoyed. I always like to win. I don't like the feeling of losing. That's why I keep on the range there and practicing.
It was different, because not many girls are playing in Mexico. But I was very lucky to have parents that support our dreams and not put any barriers on us.

Q. One of the things you talk about is the reaction you get from people who are from Mexico, the reaction you get from people here in the United States from people that are from Mexico. Can you talk about that and has anything happened this week along those lines?
LORENA OCHOA: The reaction from people in Mexico when I play?

Q. The reaction from people who are Mexican who are in the United States who see you when you play in the tournaments. What's that like and has anything happened this week?
LORENA OCHOA: I love to see Mexicans or Hispanics, or any Latin American that come say hi to me. When I'm playing and I see them, they always give me extra motivation. I love to see the Mexican flag or someone say, "Go Mexico." I play not only for me, but for all of them. It's something that I love to share with everybody.
I appreciate very much my fans and people that have been supporting me and following me in my career.

Q. Was Cabrera's victory inspirational? Do you think it will be important to Latin America and to Mexico?
LORENA OCHOA: Very much. We were all crying, I think. Very special. I think that I could be there and I want to be in his position and lifting that trophy on Sunday gives you goose bumps. I was in my dad's house with all of our family and friends. We couldn't talk, we were all -- watching it on ESPN, watching Sylvia. It was very special.
RHONDA GLENN: Thank you very much, good luck this week. Thanks for being with us.
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