Monday, April 21, 2008

Is Ochoa the Surrogate Woods Now?

Hey, remember two weeks ago when everyone was all over Tiger Woods being even money at the Masters and saying that was a sound bet? Or how about during his winning streak where people were wondering about the perfect season? Or how about every golf column written saying that Byron Nelson may as well kiss his amazing 11 event streak goodbye? No?

Maybe that's because the media appears to be turning their attention to Lorena Ochoa. Ochoa has won four in a row on the LPGA Tour, is crushing the competition by about 7 shots per win, and has taken 5 of 6 LPGA Tour starts this year. With Woods out until potentially the US Open, the media needs someone to slobber over and the PGA Tour doesn't have anyone. The LPGA Tour has someone who is just as dominant and interesting. It appears Ochoa may be getting a Tiger Injury Bounce.

Andrea Adelson of the Orlando Sentinel, usually one of the better golf papers in the country, gets the party started.

Ochoa is either No. 1 or tied for first in eight different statistical categories, including driving distance, rounds under par and rounds in the 60s. Yes, those are Tiger-esque numbers.

But what gives her a shot to win a Grand Slam before Tiger, aside from the fact that her hopes are still alive for this year, is the level of competition she is facing and the setup of the courses at the majors. It has helped Ochoa that former world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam was injured for most of last year and is just now starting to feel healthy.

But at 37, Sorenstam is not really a threat to transform back into the dominant player she once was. It is time for everyone to realize that Sorenstam is long gone, and Ochoa has replaced her. Perhaps everyone in Mexico has, but Ochoa can walk around this country virtually unrecognized.

There are other good golfers on Tour, but nobody has been able to consistently challenge Ochoa over the last 24 months. Ochoa has 18 victories in that time span (only two have been majors). For a quick comparison, Morgan Pressel has one victory, Brittany Lincicome has two, Paula Creamer has two and Karrie Webb has five. Right now, there is no Phil Mickelson equivalent to Ochoa.
All the hallmarks of a media that is transitioning its focus. First, gloss over the former number one player who has been nothing short of consistent this year. Then, make a similar comparison to a player that is familiar to everyone (Mickelson). Ochoa is a perfect fit for the same type of columns that are written about Woods.

Here, I want you to try something. Go to Google, and then search for a column about Tiger Woods winning the Grand Slam in a single season. Then replace every spot where Tiger is with Lorena and re-read it. Reads the same, right?

That's what you have to look forward to for the next month. Not to say that Lorena does not deserve the praise, but you may get a lot of this while the media is starting to realize that they can be lazy and write the same stories but about women's golf. (I do want to add that this isn't a slam on Adelson. She covered the Ginn Open for the Sentinel. But expect to see more of this from people that cover the PGA Tour regularly.)

1 comment:

The Florida Masochist said...

Adelson's column leaves out Han, Pettersen, Seon Hwa Lee, and Pak who all have won 2 or more times in the 24 months and more than Pressel's one time. The column is also regurgitating the media meme about the young talent on tour. As long as the player is young and blonde haired or preferably non-Korean.(Leaving room for Miyzato or Granada)