Gaby Lopez Wins Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions After Seven Playoff Holes

It’s Gaby Lopez’s (over)timeto shine…

The 26-year-old Mexican professional golfer, who’d already battled five extra holes into darkness against Nasa Hataoka without producing a champion a day earlier, returned Monday morning to earn a victory.

Gaby Lopez

The early wake-up call and extra golf was worth it for Lopez, who rolled in a 30-foot putt for birdie to prevail on the seventh playoff hole on Monday and capture the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.

It was the second LPGAtitle for Lopez, who 14 months ago became only the second player from Mexico to win on tour, joining World Golf Hall of Famemember Lorena Ochoa. She earned $180,000 for the victory.

The elite field featured 26 LPGA tournament champions who’d won tournaments in the last two seasons.

This was the LPGA’s fourth-longest playoff. The longest was 10 holes at the 1972 Corpus Christi Civitan Open, where Jo Ann Prenticebeat Hall of Famers Sandra Palmerand Kathy Whitworth.

Lopez and Hataoka wound up playing the difficult 197-yard 18th hole at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlandoeight times over two days, with two birdies from Lopez the difference.

Lopez birdied from 18 feet on her final hole of regulation Sunday to earn a spot in a playoff alongside Hataoka and Inbee Park, who was eliminated on the third playoff hole.

Hataoka, who had made a deft up-and-down from 30 yards for par to extend the playoff to a seventh hole as play resumed Monday, had the edge on the final hole after hitting a 4-hybrid that rode a slope along the right side of the green and curled to 12 feet from the hole.

But Lopez, whose ball barely made the putting surface, went first, her putt up the hill slowing and tumbling into the cup on its last rotation. Hataoka, ranked sixth in the world, made a poor stroke, pulling her birdie attempt left.

“I proved to myself that I can win in any situation,” Lopez said. “My first win was in the lead. My second win was coming from behind. And being able to put all those moments together and recall them while I’m walking on the fairway here and try to stay patient. That’s what I proved to myself the most, my ability to stay in the moment.”

The victory qualifies Lopez for the 2021 Tournament of Champions

Gaby Lopez Wins First-Ever LPGA Tour Event at China’s Blue Bay Golf Club

Gaby Lopez is officially on the leaderboard…

The 25-year-old Mexican professional golfer.won her first LPGA Tour event with a 1-over 73 to finish one shot ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club tournament in China.

Gaby Lopez

Lopez had bogeys on the last two holes on Saturday and almost let the title slip away. She finished at 8-under 280.

Playing in a group with Lopez, No. 1-ranked Jutanugarn had a birdie on the final hole to also finish on 73.

Celine Boutier shot a 66 and finished two shots off the lead.

Lopez is the first winner from Mexico since Lorena Ochoa, a driving force for the game in that Latin American country.

“I mean, she’s been my inspiration my entire life,” Lopez said of Ochoa. “That’s why I’m actually a professional golfer.”

Ochoa was the LPGA‘s top-ranked golfer for several years until she retired in 2010. She won 27 LPGA Tour events.

Lopez said she was also thinking of her grandfather, Jose Lopez, who died recently.

“I always told him that I was going to give him my first trophy,” Lopez said. “Sadly I didn’t, but he was with me all week long, and I couldn’t be more lucky, more fortunate to have him still alive in me.”

Jutanugarn played the last two rounds with Lopez and was happy for her — even in defeat.

“She did a great job last two days,” Jutanugarn said, knowing Lopez was “nervous sometimes.”

Lopez turned 25 on Friday and had a hole-in-one in the third round, which turned out to be the difference.

The tournament wrapped up five straight weeks of play for the LPGA in Asia.

 

Ochoa Heading Back to the Links at Her Namesake Tournament in Mexico

Lorena Ochoa is returning to the links…

The 35-year-old retired Mexican professional golfer has decided to play in her LPGA Tour event in Mexico, but only as part of a tournament exhibition,

Lorena Ochoa

Ochoa will play the Lorena Ochoa Match Play on May 4-7, her first time playing her namesake tournament since 2012.

Ochoa, who was the top-ranked female golfer in the world for 158 consecutive weeks and total weeks, will be playing in Hall of Fame exhibitions during the weekend of the tournament.

Her brother, Alejandro Ochoa, said she did not want to be specific about her participation when speaking to a small group of reporters at Chapultepec Golf Club because the LPGA Tour had not publicized the Hall of Fame matches and his sister didn’t want to speak ahead of any announcement.

The LPGA Tour is expected to reveal details of the exhibition this week.

Ochoa said she has been practicing a few days a week and said she would practice every day in advance of her appearance at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play.

Ochoa retired in 2010 when she was No. 1 in the world. She recently had married and wanted to start a family and work on her foundation. She last competed against LPGA Tour competition at the 2012 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Because she had not played 10 full years on the LPGA Tour, she was not eligible for the LPGA Hall of Fame. But after a change in the voting process for the World Golf Hall of Fame — it is now done by a committee instead of a large panel that included golf writers — Ochoa was selected for induction this year.

Ochoa compiled her 27 LPGA Tour victories in a six-year span in which she rose to No. 1 in women’s golf. She also won two majors — the 2007 Women’s British Open the first time it was held at St. Andrews, and the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.