Munoz laps competition in rookie race
GUADALAJARA, Mexico – On Tuesday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, I offered a simple congratulations to Azahara Munoz as she made the turn during a practice round with veterans Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst (who are almost joined at the hip out here). A few moments later Inkster, who must have asked someone what in the world I was talking about, turned around and said, “I just played nine holes with the Rookie of the Year and didn’t know it!”
Munoz blew away the competition so completely that she wrapped up the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award last week in Japan. Her 313-point lead over Amanda Blumenherst was insurmountable. Munoz had two top-10 finishes and 10 additional top 25s.
“I never really set goals, but when all the media started asking me I thought, well I guess that can be my one goal,” Munoz said. “It’s nice because you can only win it one year.”
Munoz is playing in her sixth consecutive event this week in Mexico, and she has learned her lesson. Six is too many.
“I hit the wall in Korea and by Japan I was done,” she said. The only thing keeping her motivated for the finish is the thought that she can return home to Spain in a few days to rest before the Tour Championship.
At the start of the season, the Arizona State grad said her irons “were awesome.” She’s been struggling with her long game of late, but managed to open with a 2-under 70 in Guadalajara.
Not surprisingly, Munoz is quite popular here in Mexico, though she has found the request to autograph fans’ arms to be rather bizarre. Not exactly a lasting memento from the year’s best rookie.