Forecaddie: Lorena Ochoa teams up with compatriots to keep Mexican players’ dreams alive

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Forecaddie: Lorena Ochoa teams up with compatriots to keep Mexican players’ dreams alive

LPGA Tour

Forecaddie: Lorena Ochoa teams up with compatriots to keep Mexican players’ dreams alive

By

It started 12 years ago when two women from Monterey, Mexico, wanted to help LPGA rookie Violeta Retamoza get started in the big leagues.

A big-hearted Retamoza encouraged the women to instead help two players getting their start on the developmental tour, where the financial pressure is even greater. Retamoza gathered friends from the Symetra Tour and, along with the then-No. 1 player in the world, Lorena Ochoa, raised funds to help fellow Mexicans Liliana Alvarez and Tanya Dergal keep their dreams rolling.

Now Alvarez and Retamoza are the ones working with Ochoa to help 14 Mexican professionals reach their potential.

“I know what it takes to be on the LPGA,” Alvarez tells the Forecaddie. “It’s so expensive and it’s heartbreaking.”

With no Mexican golf federation to back elite players, a retired Alvarez said it’s imperative they work together as a team. At the head of that team is a national treasure in Ochoa.

Lorena Ochoa of Mexico looks on at the Evian Championship prize for a better tomorrow by former Ski champion Lindsey Vonn and Annika Sorenstam at Evian Resort Golf Club on July 27, 2019 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

LPGA stars such as Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis and Brittany Lincicome have come to Mexico City – without getting paid – in recent years to help Ochoa raise funds.

“Lorena knows every penny that goes to every girl and why it goes to every girl,” said Alvarez.

The IGPM – Impulsando al Golf Profesional Mexicano – gives $450 toward entry fees for Symetra Tour players each week. Those who don’t have status but make the cut get reimbursed.

Gaby Lopez, a winner on the LPGA, called up offering to help with airline tickets for Symetra players. Newly minted LPGA pro Maria Fassi told Alvarez she’d help in any way she can.

Six of the 14 players don’t have status on the Symetra Tour but are involved in everything – including an upcoming four-day stay at Ochoa’s ranch in Mexico – and are given small stipends.

“We know the process of every girl is different,” said Alvarez, “and we don’t want to leave anyone behind.”

At the first stage of LPGA Q-School in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, Calif., Symetra player Margarita Ramos organized a house for six Mexican players. Another player borrowed her uncle’s Suburban and had a cousin come out to drive players to the golf course as needed.

Those who qualified for Stage II on Oct. 12-17 in Venice, Fla., received money toward the $3,000 entry fee.

Ochoa plans to bring in her longtime coach and a fitness/nutritional expert to the offseason retreat. She gives every player her phone number.

“You should see their eyes,” said Alvarez of the moment the young Mexican pros meet Ochoa. “They pop.”

That part is, of course, priceless.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home