Print and Go Back ESPN.com: 2009 [Print without images]

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Too Short For A Column


Lorena Ochoa's retiring is a spiked heel in the gut of women's golf. It's like Madonna quitting music after "Like a Prayer" or Sue Grafton putting the typewriter away at "D."

She'd just won her fourth straight Player of the Year award. The future that lay out in front of her was nothing but novelty checks and trophies she couldn't lift. She's only 28 years old and just discovering her powers. She'd won the money title three of the past four years!

She's married and wants to have babies and give back to the world, which is wonderful. But for the game itself, it's a huge run in the stocking. Imagine if Tiger Woods had retired at 28. Woods would've been coming off four straight Player of the Year awards, too. In fact, since 2006, Ochoa had just one fewer win on the LPGA Tour than Woods did on the PGA Tour.

The only retirement in golf that even comes close to this in oh-my-god! value is Byron Nelson's retiring at 34 in 1946 to be a rancher after winning -- get this -- 18 times on tour the year before, including 11 in a row.

Men have to decide between careers and war (Ted Williams, Pat Tillman), careers and Hollywood (Jim Brown), and careers and God (top MLB prospect Grant Desme just quit the game to enter priesthood), but not family. Yet, women do it all the time.

Annika Sorenstam, who held the World's Greatest Woman Golfer title before Ochoa, just did it two years ago. Our two best female volleyball players -- two-time gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh -- quit last year to have babies. Tennis god Roger Federer just had twins and didn't miss a major.

So long, Lorena, we hardly knew you. But at least your kids will.

See all of Rick Reilly's Too Short for a Column. More random mind dumps from the brain of Rick Reilly. Go fish! Be sure to check out Rick's Life of Reilly.