Monday, February 2
A Fourth Wedge and New Putter for Lorena Ochoa
Lorena Ochoa’s aggressive move requires special neck exercises.
ON FRIDAY AT THE PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW, Lorena Ochoa demonstrated and talked equipment while PING representatives (including CEO John Solheim) basked in her glow. I had a front-row seat at the PGA Equipment Forum Stage, just a short distance from where the world’s No. 1 woman golfer whacked 7-iron, driver and hybrid shots into a net.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” Lorena said with a grin.
Wearing a fuchsia Lacoste polo, brown slacks, and white golf shoes and cap, Lorena flew her first 7-iron shot so high into the net that she wondered if she might clear it on subsequent swings. She is definitely a high-ball hitter. (The loft of her driver is 7.5 degrees and she still manages to hit towering drives.)
According to PING’s nFlight clubfitting system, Lorena’s clubhead speed was 110 m.p.h. Her yardages: 7-iron, 148 yards; driver, 238 yards (shorter than I expected, but maybe she didn’t “catch” it). Lorena also struck a hybrid that traveled 200 yards, bringing a smile to her face. Lorena told the audience her coach wants her to hit the hybrid 200. She did it!
Lorena got her start in golf at age 5. As a PING representative happily pointed out, she began playing with PING clubs around age 10 and has been using them ever since, including in all 24 professional victories.
Lorena said she makes all equipment decisions in the offseason so she can fully concentrate on tournament golf during the season. Lorena has made some significant equipment changes for the 2009 season. For one, she will take her 5-wood out of the bag to add a fourth wedge.
It’s very important to have different shots around the green, Lorena said. She is an aggressive player who plans to be even more aggressive in 2009. That means going for more par-5s in two in search of easy birdies. When Lorena misses the green with her long approaches and finds all types of lies, that fourth wedge will come in handy.
Another significant change is a new PING putter, a Piper model. When asked about the difference, Lorena said, “This one, I’m going to make more putts.” (Audience laughter.)
Lorena went on to say the Piper has a bigger head and is easier to keep on line. Her goal is to be more solid on the six-to-seven footers that are crucial for adding birdies to her scorecard.
‘I Hit It Hard’
Not particularly tall and definitely slender, Lorena is one of the longer hitters on the LPGA Tour. “I hit it hard,” she said.
How does she generate so much clubhead speed? Both a PING rep and Lorena chimed in. One, she is athletic, and two, she has very quick hip movement, which creates more speed.
Lorena talked at length about fitness. “Being strong and in good shape is more important than people think,” she said. She runs, lifts weights and does many golf-related exercises. “Medicine balls are good,” Lorena noted.
Pro Golf and Economy
Lorena was asked about her thoughts on the economy and its impact on golf. She said it was important to “commit to make an extra effort to work with sponsors and promote the game as players.” We must do our best and not complain, she added.
Case in point: Lorena traveled all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico, just to attend the event. Of course, she didn’t mention that fact. PING did.
• Lorena plays PING S57 irons.
• Being a role model for Mexico is a “big responsibility.”
• Lorena’s fiancé doesn’t play much golf and “isn’t very good.”
• PING is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
−The Armchair Golfer
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