Lorena Ochoa Invitational: Wie Withdraws, Ochoa Comes Out of Retirement for the Week
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Michelle Wie’s effort to defend her title at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational ended not much after it began. (Remember this adorable post-victory picture from last year?) Wie withdrew after battling back pain in the first round. She’s been coping with a bulging disc and pain from two cysts near her spine, which were revealed in an MRI two months ago. Wie said the cysts weren’t serious problems, but as anyone who’s played golf with bulging discs knows (including yours truly), it can be a very painful experience. Good news is at least it’s not a herniated disc.

“We took an MRI and I have two little cysts near my spine and a little disc bulge,” Wie explained. “It’s nothing major but it’s just something I can’t play with right now.”

According to reports, Wie limped and was noticeably in pain after shooting a 78.

“I was very excited to be here, but, unfortunately, I can’t play anymore,” Wie said. “I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow and hope to make it feel better.”

Now, I know she has a history of WDs, etc, but I think she’s beyond that era. Plus, limping is a key symptom of severe back pain due to bulging discs. No, I’m not a doctor, but unfortunately I have way too much experience in this department. So, let’s not go to that place where I think some might — you know,  the “oh, she played bad and withdrew” accusation. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and back injuries are nothing to kid around about. And hey, give her credit for finishing in spite of the pain.

Here’s hoping to a speedy recovery in time for the Tour Championship.

Meanwhile, Lorena Ochoa returned to the LPGA Tour, fittingly at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. She also had her husband Andres Conessa, CEO of Aeromexico, for her on the bag. He’s also the only caddie with man in suits and earpieces protecting him. Ochoa struggled in her first round at an LPGA event since she retired in April. As expected, she had a bit of rust to shake off.

“It was really difficult for me,” said Ochoa, who opened on Thursday with a 2-over-par 74. “I didn’t have any control on my shots.”

Ochoa closed her round with a disappointed double-bogey on the final hole. But she praised her husband’s looping etiquette, which she has coached him on for months.

“I was very impressed,” said Ochoa. “He was taking care of his, how do you say … his duties.”

Regardless of Lorena’s score, the LPGA and the ladies are just happy to have her around — even if it’s just for this tournament and it’s unclear when she’ll play in another, but she recently said she wanted to play in the majors next year and a few others.

“I’m enjoying the crowds and with so many emotions sometimes it’s difficult to get the job done,” Ochoa said. “But my goal is to be happy and satisfied and what’s done is done.”

Oh, and since you asked, Cristie Kerr opened with an 8-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead.

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)