RICHMOND, Texas — Lorena Ochoa and Jiyai Shin fought to the last hole for the LPGA’s top player award.
By the slimmest of margins, Ochoa won — and for the fourth straight year, too.
She finished two strokes behind tournament winner Anna Nordqvist at the LPGA Tour Championship on Monday. The 22-year-old Nordquist’s final-round 65 was good enough to beat Ochoa in the weather-shortened event at 13 under par on Monday.
Shin needed to finish seventh or better to win the LPGA player of the year award, but missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole that tied her for eighth and gave Ochoa a 160-159 victory in the standings.
“I always say that I want to stay on top as long as I continue playing, so this is just a great year for me,” Ochoa said. “It’s been tough in many different ways, but the important thing is I’m at the top.”
The 21-year-old South Korean fell short in her bid to win the rookie and player of the year awards. Nancy Lopez remains the only player to sweep both titles, in 1978.
The good-natured Shin 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.”
Shin seemed to take the inside track when Ochoa needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker on the par-3 17th. Ochoa sank a bogey putt, virtually ending her chances of winning the tournament, as Shin and Nordqvist watched from the tee.
But Shin also hit a bunker on the 17th, blasted out short of the green and bogeyed.
Ochoa dropped her approach to the 18th hole about 16 feet away and studied the leaderboard as she walked to the green. She and caddie Greg Johnston talked about the situation before Ochoa curled in the putt, giving a modest fist pump after it fell.
Shin’s second shot to the 18th hole stopped a few feet off the green. Her chip missed the hole by inches and Ochoa patted her chest, embraced Johnston and held back tears near the scorers’ tent.
“I’m happy I can make history, and my goal is to continue that,” said Ochoa, who’s getting married in two weeks. “Hopefully, I’m going to get back home and work hard and be ready for next year.”
Ochoa also won her fourth straight Vare Trophy, honoring the season’s lowest scoring average. Ochoa and Shin were barely separated in that race award coming into the tournament.
“I was just trying to win the tournament, so I didn’t have to worry about how she finished, or the points at the end of the day,” Ochoa said. “I’m just really proud of the way I finished.”
Nordqvist, meanwhile, earned her second career victory and made it through the season without missing a cut in 15 starts. She also won the LPGA Championship this year.
Shin and Nordqvist played in the day’s final group, right behind Ochoa. The Houstonian Golf and Country Club was still soggy after more than an inch of weekend rain and players were allowed to lift, clean and place their balls.
Nordqvist surged to the lead at 12 under with five consecutive birdies between Nos. 8-12. She bogeyed the 13th, then added birdies on 14 and 15 to settle the tournament and clear the way for Ochoa and Shin to decide their duel.
“I definitely tried to be aggressive,” Nordqvist said. “It was pretty tight up 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.”
Na Yeon Choi (64) and second-round leader Kristy McPherson (70) finished 10 under, tied for third. A trio of players finished 7 under and Shin’s costly par dropped her into a four-way tie for eighth.