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GOLF ROUNDUP

Ochoa's victory lifts her over $12 million

May 19, 2008|From the Associated Press

Lorena Ochoa found a new way to win, grinding it out instead of running away from the Sybase Classic field at Clifton, N.J.

A day after leaving the retiring Annika Sorenstam in her wake, Ochoa overcame a balky putter to shoot a one-under-par 71 for a one-stroke victory over five players Sunday. It was her third consecutive victory in the tournament, which was shortened because of rain.

The victory was Ochoa's 23rd overall and 20th since April 2006. The $300,000 prize pushed her career earnings past the $12-million mark, making her the fastest player on the LPGA Tour to reach that plateau.

Ochoa accomplished it in just over five years, more than four years faster than the previous mark set by Sorenstam, who played herself out of contention with a second-round 73. The victory also ended the 26-year-old Mexican's two-tournament victory drought and reaffirmed her status as the best player in women's golf.

This win was much different than her first five this year. Ochoa won those events by a combined 37 strokes, with the closest margin being three shots. Ochoa grabbed an early four-shot lead on Sunday with a birdie on the second hole and finished at 10-under 206 on the Upper Montclair Country Club course.

"It was a tough day, but I did it," said Ochoa, who missed 10 birdie putts of 20 feet or less.

Morgan Pressel (66), Catriona Matthew (67), Brittany Lang (68), Na Yeon Choi (69) and Sophie Gustafson (70) tied for second. Sorenstam (71) tied for 11th at five under.

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Ryuji Imada claimed his first PGA Tour victory, winning a playoff at the AT&T Classic in Duluth, Ga., after losing the tournament a year ago when he hit into the water on the 73rd hole.

Imada and Kenny Perry finished regulation at 15-under 273, but Perry's ball wound up in the water on the first playoff hole even though his second shot easily cleared the pond in front of the green. Unfortunately for Perry, he struck a pine tree behind the green about 10 feet up the trunk. The ball ricocheted straight back across the putting surface and didn't stop rolling until it was in the water.

Imada, who had driven into the rough, played it safe with an iron on the par-five hole and wound up two-putting for the winning par.

After taking a drop, Perry nearly spun back his wedge into the cup, then missed a 12-footer that would have forced another extra hole.

Imada stepped up and calmly knocked his ball straight in from four feet for the victory.

A year ago, Imada got into a playoff with Zach Johnson at the TPC Sugarloaf, only to lose when he knocked his second shot into the same pond that claimed Perry's ball.

Imada, a native of Japan who attended the University of Georgia, closed with a five-under 67 to match Perry (69) at 15 under.

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Andy Bean managed to save par on No. 18 after hooking his drive left and bogeying the previous hole, holding on for a two-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Loren Roberts in the Champions Tour's Regions Charity Classic at Hoover, Ala.

It was only the second win in 5 1/2 years on the 50-and-over tour for Bean and his first since the Greater Hickory Classic on Oct. 1, 2006. That one capped a 20-year drought since his 11th PGA Tour victory.

Bean finished at 13-under 203. Roberts closed with a 69.

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