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Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa, No. 1 in the world, calls it quits

April 23, 2010 | 11:21 am

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Top-ranked golfer Lorena Ochoa, one of Mexico's most beloved athletes, formally announced her retirement Friday, saying she wanted to have children and dedicate more time to her family.

"I go with my head held high, and with a huge smile ... satisfied with what I have accomplished and proud of where I am," Ochoa said.

Speaking at a news conference in Mexico City, a tearful Ochoa said she will continue to hit the links, just not as a pro, and left open the possibility of representing Mexico in the next Olympics.

"In the first place, I wanted to retire as No.1, which I have had the fortune to be the past three years," said the popular golfista. "Second, I have always dreamed of saying goodbye in Mexico, at home, with my people. Finally, I want to live and enjoy the daily things in life that, were I to continue playing, I could not do."

She added that she wanted to give her family the attention that she has been unable to offer in recent years, and that she and her husband of less than a year want to have kids.

Initial reaction in some of the Mexican Internet chatrooms was less than positive, suggesting Ochoa, who is 28, was too young to swing aside her career. And Times' sportswriter Kevin Baxter wondered earlier this week what her departure would do to the sport of golf, quoting Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer as saying:

'Obviously when you lose your No. 1 player it certainly is not good news. ... It's a tough pill to swallow. You provide a stage for your larger-than-life stars and that's what pushes the needle in golf. There's some negatives to that. When you put your eggs in one basket, sometimes the basket gets a little fragile and the eggs roll out.'

Ochoa is wildly popular in Mexico, where she has used some of her multi-million-dollar winnings to build schools and a cancer wing at a hospital in her native city of Guadalajara.

In her Friday announcement, she said a tournament next week in the Michoacan state capital of Morelia will be her final pro outing.

--Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City

Photo: A tearful Lorena Ochoa calls it quits. Credit: Mexsport via El Universal

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