Sunday, November 18, 2007


Lorena Ochoa set the seal on a terrific personal season of achievement by winning the $1million jackpot in the LPGA season-sending ADT championship at Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach, Florida.
It was her eighth victory of a season that included a triumph in the Ricoh Women's British Open over the Old Course, St Andrews.
The Mexican was cruising to victory over the eight qualifiers for the final day - four shots clear with two holes to play - before she had a three-putt double bogey 5 at the short 17th.
Natalie Gulbis made a birdie 2 to cut the lead to one shot, and Gulbis followed with a hybrid into 15 feet on the 18th.
The 26-year-old Ochoa never flinched. Her approach hit the front of the green and didn’t stop rolling until it was just 30 inches away from the flagstick.
Gulbis missed her putt, and Ochoa calmly rapped hers in for a birdie 3 and a four-under-par 68 and a two-shot victory.
"That approach shot at 18 was the best shot of my career," said Ochoa whose eighth victory put her up on the same mark as Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez, the only other players to have achieved so many wins in one season over the past 20 years.
The million-dollar end to her season pushed her 2007 earnings - not counting royalties, of course - to $4million.
Gulbis, now showing more than more that she is much more than a glamour girl, set up birdies chances at the last six holes but converted only two of them.
She wound up with a 70, earning $100,000.
None of the other eight players who advanced to the final round broke par.
Paula Creamer was the only other player under par until hitting her tee shot into the water on the 18th and escaping with a bogey to finish with a 72. She got $20,000.
Everyone else cleared the stage much earlier, certainly after taking on the fiendishly diffiult short seventh hole which has a narrow peninsula green out on the water. The first five players found the water, with Karrie Webb going in twice for a quadruple bogey 7 on her way to a nightmare 84.
Christina Kim finished with an 81.
Ochoa made it look easy, and for most of the final round, it looked like a one-filly race. She ran off birdies on the second and third hole, hit a risky flop shot toward the lake on No. 4 and made the 12-foot par putt, followed with two more birdies and another fearless approach on the par-5 ninth set up her fifth birdie to make the turn in 31. The average score on the front nine for everyone else was 38.7.
Ochoa had a five-shot lead and showed no signs of letting up.The first hint of any drama came on the 16th, where she was bunkered and faced a recovery shot of 131 yards over the water to a difficult green. Gulbis already was 15 feet from the flag, and Ochoa hit 7-iron to about a foot inside her.
One hole later, Ochoa's tee shot went over the back of the green, the rough keeping it from going into the stream. Her 20-footer for par ran 6ft past the hole, and Ochoa missed that for double bogey.
It ended her streak of 48 consecutive holes at par or better, but of more concern was a lead suddenly slashed to just one stroke.
With Gulbis in birdie range, the scene was set for a stunning comeback — or collapse — with Ochoa facing a lie in the rough that could have gone anywhere. But it was right where she aimed, a career shot that paid off in a million ways.
Ochoa finished the year with $4,364,994, having already shattered the LPGA earnings record set by Sorenstam five years ago ($2,863,904).
The Mexican wonder girl said she would donate most of the money to her foundation and building schools in Mexico.
Final scores over the par-72, 6,538yd Trump International Golf Club course:
68 Lorena Ochoa $1,000,000
70 Natalie Gulbis $100,000.
72 Paula Creamer $20,500.
74 Cristie Kerr $19,250.
78 Mi Hyun Kim $18,500
80 Sarah Lee $17,750.
81 Christina Kim $17,000.
84 Karrie Webb $16,250.

+++Catriona Matthew earned $14,000 for getting through to the third day when she had a 79 and was eliminated.