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November 25, 2009

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Home » Sports » Golf

Cool Ochoa lands LPGA award

LORENA Ochoa edged out South Korean Shin Ji-yai to become the LPGA player of the year for a fourth successive time on Monday after Swede Anna Nordqvist won the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship in Houston.

Mexican Ochoa coolly birdied the final hole for a 5 under-par 67 at The Houstonian Golf and Country Club to finish alone in second place at 11-under 205, two strokes behind Nordqvist who signed off with a 65.

Shin, who led Ochoa in the player of the year race going into the weather-delayed tournament, had to settle for a share of eighth place at 6-under after closing with a 73.

The bespectacled Korean, playing with fellow rookie Nordqvist in the final group, would have overhauled Ochoa with a birdie at the last but her chip from greenside rough slid past the right edge of the cup.

Ochoa, who ended her season with three victories and 13 top-10 finishes in 22 starts, had tears in her eyes as she watched Shin's birdie attempt from the edge of the 18th green.

"This has been the toughest (player of the year award) and for sure the one that I am going to enjoy the most," the slim Mexican said in a greenside television interview.

"Everything came down to the last hole and I am just really proud of the way I finished. I can be happy. I'm going to go home and rest and enjoy that top position.

"It's not easy being on top for four years in a row," added the world No. 1 who edged out Shin by 160 points to 159.

Shin, who had already been voted LPGA rookie of the year after winning three times on the circuit, rued her putting display on the front nine which she covered in one-over 37.

"My putting was so bad," the 21-year-old said. "Then I just tried to focus on my game. But I have learned a lot from this year. I need more focus and concentration, more everything.

"I just missed the player of the year but I still have rookie of the year," Shin added with a smile. "I will go back to Korea and I think I will have a big celebration."

Nordqvist, who began the weather-delayed final round two shots off the pace, raced to the turn in 3 under-33.

She took control of the tournament with three successive birdies from the 10th, shrugged off a bogey at the 13th and picked up further shots on 14 and 15 to tighten her grip.

"It feels great," said Nordqvist who clinched her first major title at the LPGA Championship in June. "To win two times in your rookie year, I am just so happy.

"I was just trying to play solid golf, trying to enjoy it and this week was just unbelievable."

The LPGA Tour Championship was reduced to 54 holes after heavy downpours saturated the Houstonian layout on Friday and Saturday.


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