Cristie Kerr won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour victory in more than two years, and Stacy Lewis tied for fourth to wrap up the player of the year award.
Kerr parred the final three holes at Guadalajara Country Club to hold off Angela Stanford and third-round leader Inbee Park by a stroke.
”Coming in those last couple of holes it didn’t feel like I had won before,” Kerr said. ”I kind of just squeaked in. I won by a shot. That’s all that it takes. I’ve lost plenty of tournaments by a shot, but winning by a shot feels a lot better.”
The 35-year-old American finished at 16-under 272 for her 15th LPGA Tour title and first since the LPGA Championship in June 2010.
She holed a 4-foot par putt on No. 18 for the victory.
”Yeah, I was nervous,” Kerr said. ”I haven’t been in this position to win in a while. To even have one putt to win, or two putts to win, I wasn’t nervous for messing up, but it was hard to control the amount of adrenaline that was in my system.
”I just tried to take some breaths and calm myself down and I still can’t believe how hard I hit that first putt. I gave the fans and myself a heart attack, but I stayed in there mentally until the end.”
Stanford shot 68, and Park had a 72.
The second-ranked Lewis, coming off her tour-leading fourth victory of the year last week in Japan, is the first American player of the year since Beth Daniel in 1994.
”After I finally made my last putt there on 18, I think it finally hit me,” Lewis said. ”It’s just crazy to think that there have been so many great American players and I am the one after Beth in `94. It’s just crazy to even think of.”
Lewis closed with a 68 to match Candie Kung at 4 under. Kung also shot 68.
”I’m really happy for her,” Stanford said about Lewis. ”She’s a great person and probably has a bigger heart than she is player. I mean she’s just a great girl and I’m very happy for her. So, I think it’s great.”
Park needed to win the event and the season-ending Titleholders to have a chance to pass Lewis in the player of the year standings.
”I’ll just try to enjoy myself next week because I tried to put too much pressure on myself this week,” Park said. ”Next week will be better.”
The South Korean player has two victories this year and leads the money list.
”Everything has improved in my game and I’m really just happy I’m in contention almost every week,” Park said. ”That’s given me a lot of experience and it gives me a lot more to do next year.”
Suzann Pettersen finished with a 69 to tie 12th at 7 under. She won in South Korea and Taiwan in her previous two starts.
Michelle Wie tied for 14th at 6 under after a 74.
Ochoa finished with a 71 to tie for 19th at 4 under. The Mexican star won 27 LPGA Tour titles before retiring at age 28 in 2010.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng tied for 26th in the 36-player field, closing with a 72 to finish at 1 over.