Mexican fiesta

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Until now, the No. 1 player in the world has somehow managed to remain a lesser name in the game to a lengthy list of others.

And Lorena Ochoa has been cool with that.

"I've felt very good with what I have," the Mexican icon said after finishing her practice round for the CN Canadian Women's Open at the Royal Mayfair in the late afternoon yesterday.

"I think it's fair that other players have had more attention. "They're from the U.S.

"I'm from Mexico.

"When the tour comes to Mexico, I get all the attention. It's been OK to stay a little bit behind that way.

"I've never been unhappy with things for me. I am very proud to be an LPGA player. It's a great way to live. I feel blessed."

She suggested real sports stardom is better when it comes slow and steady, anyhow.

"Get good results and win tournaments."

You have to believe the gig is up starting here and now.

The $2,299,090 she's won so far this year is now more than double anybody else on the LPGA money list this year.

At four years, two months and seven days, she's also now the fastest to get to $7 million on tour.

BRITISH OPEN CHAMP

And two weeks ago she won the British Women's Open.

Ochoa was the LPGA rookie of the year in 2003 and won six tournaments to be named player of the year last year.

But she'd never won a major and hadn't really achieved total star status north of the Rio Grande.

I mean she didn't even have a golf equipment deal until Ping signed her up on June 27.

But winning her first major at the first women's professional golf tournament to be held at the historic home of golf - the Old Course at St. Andrews - brings her here as a fully accredited golf superstar.

"It was a special moment I'll remember forever. It was an amazing feeling.

"To go to St. Andrews and make history is going to be there for the rest of my life.

"Twenty-four majors and I finally have a trophy. Hopefully it's the first of many to come.

" It's been a blessing just the whole way, and a long way, too," she says.

With her historic win, Ochoa became the first Mexican-born player to win a major championship on the LPGA Tour.

"I am very proud to represent Mexico. I can't wait to get back to Mexico in a couple of weeks to celebrate it all over again.

"My goal is to make the sport more popular with more Mexicans," added the native of Guadalajara, one golfer whom you don't ask about being a real athlete, considering she's competed in two triathlons, two half marathons as well as two ecothons - the latter being a combination of mountain biking, hiking, swimming, kayaking and rappelling.

In a nation of 102 million people, only 18,000 golf.

"In Mexico the masses don't know what golf is, but if you ask any taxi driver in Mexico City, he'll know who Lorena Ochoa is," said former PGA tour player Rafael Alarcon recently.

The 25-year-old now holds 13 career victories, including four wins this season.

RARE FEAT ACCOMPLISHED

With her $320,512 British Women's Open winning paycheque, Ochoa also surpassed $2 million in season earnings for the second consecutive year, a feat that only Annika Sorenstam has accomplished previously.

And that's not to mention the bet she won with her caddy at St. Andrews.

"I bet my caddy that he had to have his two daughters baptized in the Catholic church," she said.

Her caddy is not Catholic.

This is her next LPGA tournament following her ultimate victory at the ultimate place in her sport to be victorious.

"I've put two or three wins together before. I'm coming to this tournament to try to do that. I have great momentum.

"I want to keep it going.

"This course is beautiful. It's in great shape. It's a good challenge. And I have a good feeling here."


Videos

Photos