SBJ/February 10 - 16, 2003/Labor Agents

Golfer Ochoa collecting deals before ever teeing it up on LPGA Tour

Veteran golf agent Rocky Hambric has represented stars like Phil Mickelson, Corey Pavin, Justin Leonard and Bob Tway. But, he says, his first-ever female client, Lorena Ochoa, "has a star quality that I have never seen before in anyone I represented."

Since signing Ochoa last year, Hambric has negotiated five deals for her that will bring her endorsement income of "easily in excess of $1 million a year."

That's pretty good, considering the 21-year-old Ochoa will only start playing on the LPGA Tour when it launches its new season in March. Hambric said he has never heard of a female golfer "who had this amount of income before they ever teed it up as an LPGA member."

Ochoa, a native of Guadalajara, was NCAA player of the year in 2001 and 2002 and was the leading money winner on the Futures Tour last year, which qualified her for the LPGA Tour. She also won the U.S. 8-12 Junior Championship five times and is a star in Mexico, Hambric said.

Companies interested in the Mexican marketplace have flocked to Ochoa. She has deals with Audi, AeroMexico, Office Depot and Upper Deck and a ball and shoe deal with Nike Golf.

Chris Zimmerman, general manager for Nike Golf, said Ochoa enjoys huge popularity in Mexico. He believes Ochoa's endorsement could have an impact "on the Nike business in general, not just on our golf business."

"Fundamentally, Lorena is a winner, and as we grow our women's business it is critical for us to find great players who can help inspire the development of great women's product," Zimmerman said.

Ochoa plays a mixed bag, with a lot of Ping clubs, and doesn't plan to sign a club deal at the moment, Hambric said. He said he is done negotiating deals for Ochoa now, reserving some space on her sponsorship plate because he thinks she will take off on the tour in the coming years and wants to capitalize on what he thinks will be her appeal for the growing U.S. Hispanic market.

Hambric, the owner of Hambric Sports Management, said he competed with IMG and Gaylord Sports Management in agent interviews before signing Ochoa last year.

  MVP GOING TO SIX FLAGS: Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dexter Jackson didn't go to Disneyland after winning the Super Bowl MVP award, but he is going to at least one of the Six Flags amusement parks.

Jackson signed a deal to endorse the Six Flags company after the Disney people signed Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson, said Peter Schaffer, Jackson's agent. Schaffer declined to disclose financial details.

"I had left them [Disney representatives] messages during the second half of the game and by the time I had gotten ahold of them they had already made up their minds," he said. "Most of the MVPs historically get a Disney deal. We were able to use the opportunity to get a Six Flags deal."

JOHNSON GETS DEALS: Fresh off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl victory, quarterback Brad Johnson signed endorsement deals with Wheaties, the milk advisory board and Disneyland and a memorabilia deal with Tri-Star Productions.

The deals were negotiated by Brian Lammi, president of Lammi Sports Management, a Milwaukee-based sports marketing firm in which Johnson holds an equity stake. Lammi declined to reveal the value of the deals.

Contact Liz Mullen with labor and agent news, tips and anecdotes at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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