Lorena Ochoa took a huge step towards dethroning Annika Sorenstam as the US LPGA Tour player of the year last night, as her seven-under 65 in the final round turned a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory in the World Championship.
Ochoa was relentless at the start, a little lucky in the middle and solid down the stretch to win for the second straight week and fifth time this year. Her win is almost enough to wrap up the points-based award that Sorenstam has captured for the last five seasons.
Trailing by two shots at the turn, Ochoa sunk a 60-foot putt on the 10th hole which hopped out briefly and dropped back into the hole for a birdie that turned into a two-shot swing when Sorenstam made a bogey from a bunker.
The 24-year-old Ochoa, the winner last week in her native Mexico, stood on the green in mild shock, then smiled and shook her head.
For Sorenstam, who closed with a 70, there was nothing she could do.
"I gave 100 per cent on every shot," Ochoa said. "I fought with all my heart. She knows I can do it. I know I can do it. It was fun."
Ochoa matched the best score of the tournament. Juli Inkster earlier posted a 65, which was 10 shots better than her playing partner, Michelle Wie. The 17-year-old from Hawaii had more trouble in the desert and finished with a 75, her worst score on the US LPGA Tour this year and her eighth consecutive round without breaking par. Wie finished 17th in the 20-player field.
Sorenstam or Karrie Webb will now have to win their final two tournaments of the year to keep Ochoa from winning player of the year. Sorenstam had a three-shot lead at the start of the day and was two shots ahead when she made the turn but she could not hold off Ochoa.
* Retief Goosen cruised to a three-shot win in the China Masters at Sanya yesterday. The South African had a final-round 71 for a 21-under-par total of 267. Michael Campbell scored a 68 to claim second place. In Spring, Texas, last night, Jay Haas won his sixth US PGA Champions Tour title when rain forced the cancellation of the final round of the Administaff Small Business Classic.