AFTER A 14-MONTH
layoff from the LPGA during which she ballooned to 210 pounds and got so sick
that she thought she might die, Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez launched a comeback
last week at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Sylvania, Ohio. Lopez, 49,
looked refreshed and invigorated, having lost 28 pounds by junking her
junk-food diet and starting an intense workout regimen, and she came out firing
at Highland Meadows Golf Club--not on the course, where she opened with a
10-over 81 and followed with a 77 to miss the cut by 14 strokes--but in the
pressroom, where she ripped Michelle Wie for playing in the PGA Tour's John
"If I had a
16-year-old who could play the way Michelle does, I would never encourage her
to play the men's tour," Lopez said. "When I was a girl I wanted to
win, and I think it's impossible for Michelle to win on the men's tour. Plus,
most PGA Tour players probably don't want her on their tour. They won't say
that, but I'm speaking for them."
Lopez said Wie
has an obligation to play on the LPGA tour. "We need Michelle to bring
people in the gates," said Lopez. "The LPGA has great young players
with personality, and Michelle is one of them.... Michelle is a woman and
should support the women's tour."
Lopez hopes to
persuade Wie to focus solely on the LPGA but doesn't feel comfortable speaking
to her directly. "I'd like to talk to Michelle, but she's not approachable
to me," Lopez said. "I don't feel I can go up to her."
With or without
Wie, Lopez is going full bore with her comeback. In March, Lopez suffered a
bout of vertigo that compounded the stress and severe pain she was feeling
throughout her body. "My doctor told me my blood pressure was 116 over
95"--the second number, measuring diastolic pressure, is considered a
warning sign for hypertension--"that my triglycerides were sky-high and
that I could have a stroke at any moment," Lopez said. "I was afraid
for my life, especially because Ray [Knight, Lopez's husband] recently had a
fourth stent put into his heart. I want to be around for my kids."
Lopez, who has
three daughters between the ages of 14 and 22, declined medication. Instead she
promised her doctor that she'd change her diet and become a fitness fanatic.
"No more Doritos, chunky sandwiches and huge steaks," said Lopez, who
works out 90 minutes a day in her backyard pool in Albany, Ga., with trainer
Leah Vann. "I don't swim, but I run in there and do things like water
aerobics, squats and arm exercises. I feel awesome now."
Lopez hopes to
play in a few more tournaments this year and about 10 events in 2007. By the
time she turns 50 next January, she hopes to have shed another 30 pounds and
have her game sharp enough to contend. "It might not be realistic,"
Lopez said, "but my dream is to have a chance to be in the final group on
Sunday and go head-to-head against the best player in the world."
"No doubt, it's Annika."