At long last, the stranglehold enjoyed on the LPGA Tour by Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam has been broken. For the first time in ten years a different name will appear on the LPGA Player of the Year award, after Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa strolled to her sixth victory of the season at the Tournament of Champions in Alabama – giving her an unassailable lead on the money list.
Ochoa (pictured) shot a final round of 65 to leave her on a tournament-record -21, ten strokes clear of American duo Paula Creamer and Juli Inkster. Her round included two runs of three consecutive birdies, with her only blemish of the day coming at the 8th hole. It was more than enough to consolidate and extend her overnight lead of five shots.
Ochoa can now enjoy her 25th birthday on Wednesday in style, having broken one of golf’s longest running streaks. Sorenstam has won the Player of the Year award for the last five seasons and only she and Webb have won it over the last ten years. Both ladies decided to miss this week’s event in order to concentrate on the season-ending Tour Championship next week, and Ochoa was able to seize on their absence to secure her ninth win on tour in four seasons.
“It’s fantastic to win and make sure of the Player of the Year title,” said Ochoa, whose cheque for $200,000 took her season earnings past $2.5m.
“It was my goal at the start of the week and I’m delighted to have achieved it. It feels wonderful and now I can play in the Tour Championship without feeling too much pressure. It has been a great year for me and one that I will never forget. This just caps it off.”