MEXICO CITY, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Former world number one Lorena Ochoa, who retired from the LPGA tour two years ago, wants to play a part for Mexico when golf returns to the Olympic Games after a 112-year absence at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I’d like to be involved in some way because I believe it will be a unique experience,” she told Reuters.
“I can’t see myself playing but I would like to be involved, either with the (Mexican Golf) Federation or as a coach, travel with the Mexican team,” she said in an interview.
Ochoa, who retired at the top having headed the LPGA rankings from April 2007 to May 2010, could also play a role in the Rio Games if she and Australian Greg Norman win the competition for the Olympic course design.
“Greg and I entered as a team. There are eight finalists fighting to win (the right) to design the golf course. In March we’ll be told who the winners are and we’re hoping for good news,” the 30-year-old said.
“I would love, being Latin and Mexican, to be able to be at those Games and I hope I can,” said Ochoa, who quit the LPGA Tour to spend more time with her family at her Guadalajara home in western Mexico but still plays exhibition tournaments.
“I retired from the LPGA tour, but I didn’t retire from golf. This year I have a heavy calendar of tournaments. People are a bit confused in this regard, but when I retired I said golf was my life and I’ll always play golf,” she said.
Ochoa won 27 titles on the LPGA Tour - two of them majors including the 2007 British Open - and believes more Latin players will take leading roles on the golf circuit before too long.
“I‘m sure that in a few years we’ll see extraordinary results because everything has a process,” she said.
“The girls and boys who watched me play, who were motivated and started playing this sport will produce results in time, although it won’t be from one day to the next, we have to be patient.”
Paraguayan Julieta Granada at number 86 is the best-placed Latin American in the LPGA rankings, which are headed by Taiwan’s Yani Tseng.
“There are many very motivated Latins who are improving, who are practicing and playing every day to (try to) go very far and we must focus on them,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa has two projects linked to golf, a television programme in which she will speak about her sport and the publication of her autobiography.
”This (TV) programme is the perfect example of being able to share the talent there is with everyone, (show) how golf has grown in Mexico and South America, the large number of Latins who have been playing on the different tours.
“I think that to have this programme will be something very positive for the sport,” she said.
Ochoa said her autobiography had been completed and she hoped to publish it in November.
“We hope it will help to bring lots of boys and girls to the sport so it keeps growing.” (Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)