Ochoa deserves Hall

IAN HUTCHINSON -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

Something doesn't sit right about Lorena Ochoa qualifying for the LPGA Hall of Fame at the age of 26.

Don't get the wrong idea. Ochoa's rise to stardom has been meteoric and the reaction of Mexicans to "Super Lorena," as they call her, would bring a smile to the most stern face.

How could anybody not smile at Ochoa, her family and all those Mexicans bobbing in the pond by the 18th hole to the music of a mariachi band after her win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship?

Of course, Ochoa must play 10 years on tour, but that's likely a slam-dunk before she joins Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb, two other players who qualified in their mid-to-late 20s, an odd age to be getting a hall-of-fame nod even with the magnificent starts each had to her career.

The main reason for this seeming odd is that Tiger Woods, who will have more major championships than most players have career wins by the time he retires, has to wait until he is 40 to gain entrance to the World Golf Hall of Fame. If ever someone deserved an exemption, Tiger is the man.

So different rules for different halls means Ochoa deserves her spot. Her fourth consecutive win at yesterday's Ginn Open will attest to that, but you start to wonder if milk instead of wine should be served at induction parties with youngsters as the guests of honour.

"Whether it be Se Ri or Annika (Sorenstam) or Karrie or soon to be Ochoa, they have been superstar golfers," said Oakville's Sandra Post, who celebrates the 40th anniversary of her major title at the 1968 LPGA Championship this year.

"They came along and did things that were so incredible. I'm not so sure these gals are going to play into their 40s, like (Juli) Inkster did and Beth Daniel and Pat Bradley did.

"They won a lot of tournaments in a very short period of time, so what do you do? Not put them in just because of their age? No, you've got to put them in."

Post added that the hall of fame now is reflecting a trend on tour for the past several years.

"It shows what the LPGA is today, which is an international tour," Post said. "You can come from Mexico and Sweden and Korea and Australia and win that many events. You've crossed cultures, adapted and won."

TRANSITION YEARS

When Priddis Greens near Calgary was named the 2009 site for the CN Canadian Women's Open last week, the infamous Battle of Alberta was brought up after Edmonton's Royal Mayfair hosted the tournament last year.

Which of these venues would host the best tournament? Doug Mitchell, chairman of the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority, didn't miss a beat.

"No competition," he said. "We're far superior to any event Edmonton can put on."

A friendly rivalry is good motivation for Calgary, which has its work cut out for it after a dandy showing in Edmonton last year and at London Hunt in '06. The CN Canadian Women's Open now is similar to The Players Championship, the unofficial fifth major on the PGA Tour.

The tournament has the purse, the field and the hospitality for the players that should make it the major championship it was 10 years ago when Priddis Greens hosted the du Maurier Classic in fine fashion. Ottawa Hunt, this year's site, is in a city that also has a reputation as a fine host.

That's a comfort since the next two years could be very important in convincing the LPGA Tour that it's time to restore major status to the Canadian event. If it doesn't have that official designation by 2010, something is awry.

"I've said before that we will continue to press as hard as we can in order to return to major status," said Stan Jablonski, senior vice-president of sales for CN. "We believe we have a major tournament already. We are the national open for women here in Canada.

"I think London and Edmonton have helped us tremendously to keep pushing forward and I think Calgary and Ottawa this year will be tremendous helps in showing the world that we are, indeed, a major."

SMART YOUNGSTER

Birdies and eagles mean big bucks for Yuvish Singh of Brampton, but don't worry about his amateur status. The 11-year-old donates $20 for every birdie and $50 for every eagle he records in Canadian Junior Golf Association play to support UNICEF's vaccine program.

He also invites corporations to match his contributions through his web site www.birdiesforthechildren.com or at www.unicef.ca.

Yuvish's efforts continue on Saturday when he holds the second annual Champions Fundraising Dinner at Lionhead Golf and Country Club. For more information, call Vicky Singh at (416) 931-5015.


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