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Nordqvist wins LPGA Tour Championship; Ochoa top player

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The Sports Network
11/23/2009 8:03:05 PM
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Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Anna Nordqvist fired a seven-under 65 Monday to cruise to a two-stroke win at the rain-plagued LPGA Tour Championship.

Nordqvist, who won the McDonald's LPGA Championship earlier this year, finished at 13-under-par 203.

"It was great. To win two times, I'm just so happy," said Nordqvist, who collected $225,000 for the victory.

World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa birdied the 18th hole to shoot five-under 67 and finish alone in second place at 11-under-par 205.

With that and Jiyai Shin's share of eighth place, Ochoa repeated as the Player of the Year. The Mexican earned that crown for the fourth straight season.

"It is hard to explain, but this year has been tough," Ochoa said. "Everything came down to the last hole, and I am just proud of the way I finished. I can't be happier."

All was not lost for Shin. She posted a one-over 73 Monday to end in a share of eighth at minus-six. She won the money title and the Rookie of the Year race as well.

The season-ending tournament was shortened to three rounds when Saturday was washed out by rain.

Nordqvist birdied the second, then caught fire at the eighth. She poured in five consecutive birdies to jump to 12-under. After back-to-back birdies at eight and nine, Nordqvist made a 10-footer at the 10th to take a one-stroke lead.

The 22-year-old followed with an 18-footer on 11 before getting up and down for birdie on the par-five 12th to move two strokes clear of the field.

After a bogey on 13, Nordqvist converted back-to-back birdie efforts from the 14th to move to 13-under. She parred the final three holes to cruise to the victory.

"I've just tried to play solid golf and enjoy it," Nordqvist stated. "This week was just unbelievable."

The battle for Player of the Year between Shin and Ochoa was much closer. Ochoa could have repeated as Player of the Year in many ways, but with Nordqvist pulling away, Ochoa needed a solo second-place finish and Shin to finish eighth or worse.

Shin played a steady round, but it was not enough. She bogeyed the first and parred the next nine holes. Shin birdied the 11th to get to seven-under. As she parred the next five holes, Shin stood in a share of fifth place, which would have given her Player of the Year honors.

Ochoa birdied the first three holes to take the lead at nine-under. After another birdie on seven, she tripped to bogeys on eight and nine.

The Mexican, playing one group ahead of Shin, turned in eight-under, but rallied with a 20-foot birdie putt on 11 and a 12-footer for birdie on 12.

Ochoa birdied 15 but tripped to a bogey on 17. She was in a bunker off the tee and left her second in the same trap. Ochoa blasted to 13 feet and ran home the bogey putt.

Shin also found a bunker off the 17th tee and was unable to get up and down for par. That bogey dropped her into a tie for eighth.

Ochoa recovered her lost stroke with a 16-foot birdie putt at the last to secure second place.

On the 18th, Shin's approach came up short of the green. A chip-in birdie would have given her Player of the Year honors, but her chip stopped inches from the hole, meaning Ochoa kept the crown for the fourth straight year.

"I was aware all day," Ochoa said of what was going on with Shin and the Player of the Year race. "I wanted to win so I didn't have to worry too much about the points, but Anna had a great back nine. I was just waiting to see what Jiyai did on the 17th hole, and for my luck it was good for me."

Shin finished her rookie year with three wins, eight top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 25 starts.

"I learned a lot from this year," admitted Shin, who ended one point behind Ochoa in the Player of the Year points race. "I need some more focus and concentration."

Na Yeon Choi fired the low round of the week with her eight-under 64 Monday. That helped her jump into a share of third at 10-under-par 206, where she was joined by Kristy McPherson (70).

Sophie Gustafson (68), Hee Young Park (67) and Song-Hee Kim (68) tied for fifth at minus-seven.

Shin shared eighth place at six-under-par 210 with Ai Miyazato (69), Suzann Pettersen (70) and Yani Tseng (70).

Anna Nordqvist (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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