Nordqvist edges Ochoa in LPGA finale
A final round surge has secured Anna Nordqvist victory at the weather-ravaged LPGA Tour Championship.
A final round surge secured victory on Monday for rookie Swede Anna Nordqvist at the weather-delayed LPGA Tour Championship in Richmond, Texas.
The tall, 22-year-old, Scotsdale-based, former Arizona State college star, who was equal third overnight after a four-under-par second round took her to six under overall, blazed into the lead at 12-under on Sunday with five consecutive birdies between the 8th and 12 holes.
She then bogeyed the 13th to open the door to her rivals, but promptly slammed it shut again when she added birdies on 14 and 15 and from there coolly parred her way home to secure her second title following her earlier shock triumph in one of the season’s four majors, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship .
“I definitely tried to be aggressive,” said Nordqvist who made it clear with this important win that her first victory was no fluke.
“It was pretty tight up at the top of the leaderboard, so you were really going to have to shoot low in order to pull it off. I’m just very, very happy that I did.”
World number one Lorena Ochoa of Mexico didn’t win this one, but she did finish second and that was enough to give her both the LPGA’s Player of the Year award and the Vare Trophy for the season’s lowest scoring average for the fourth successive year.
Ji Yai Shin, who had already wrapped up the LPGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year award before the tournament started, had to finish no worse than seventh to add the Player of the Year to her CV in an oustanding maiden season on the world’s toughest women’s tour.
In the end of a tense day it all came down to Shin needing to nail her chip onto the green for a birdie at the last, but she settled for a par and finished tied for eighth at 6-under to concede Ochoa the player award by a 160 points to 159.
Point totals are based on top-10 results.
The 21-year-old South Korean would have been the first golfer since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win both the rookie and player of the year awards if she had managed that chip, but she was still smiling after coming up short.
“I learned a lot from this year,” she said. “I need more focus, concentration and everything. I really made my goals. I just missed player of the year, but I still had a good year.”
The climax to this rain-ravaged finale didn’t end without drama. It was there all the way to the end.
Shin seemed to have taken command when Ochoa needed two shots to exit a greenside bunker on the par-3 17th hole and made a bogey.
Shin and Nordqvist, playing in the final group, watched from the tee, but then Shin, herself, found a bunker on the 17th, blasted out short of the green and also bogeyed the hole.
Ochoa put her approach at the 18th hole some 16 feet from the pin and then, after examining the leaderboard and talking earnestly to her caddie, Greg Johnston, the slim, soon to be married Mexican curled in the difficult putt and modestly pumped the air as it dropped in.
Shin’s second shot to the 18th hole, a little later, stopped a few feet off the green. Her chip missed the hole by inches and Ochoa, standing near the scorer’s tent, symbolically patted her heart, and hugged Johnston as she battled to hold back the tears.
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