GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AFP) –
Cristie Kerr rallied to win the Lorena Ochoa Invitational as Stacy Lewis locked up LPGA Player of the Year honors with a tie for fourth place.
Kerr had six birdies and three bogeys and parred the last three holes at Guadalajara Country Club on Sunday to hold off fellow American Angela Stanford and overnight leader Inbee Park and win by one stroke.
Kerr’s 69 gave her a four-round total of 16-under 272. Stanford carded a 68 and South Korea’s Park a 72 for 273.
Kerr claimed her 15th LPGA title and her first since she won the LPGA Championship in June 2010.
“It feels amazing,” said Kerr, who admitted to late-round nerves.
“You know, coming in those last couple of holes it didn’t feel like I had won before. 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.”
Lewis, the world number two who was coming off her tour-leading fourth victory of the year in Japan last week, closed with a 68 for 276, tied with Taiwan’s Candie Kung, who also carded a 68.
The finish makes Lewis the first US golfer to win the points-based Player of the Year award 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. I mean it’s an honor to win the award, and I think this will spur on with the rest of the Americans to get out and keep playing well because Solheim Cup is coming up.”
South Korea’s Park came into the week 58 points behind Lewis in the race for the award, but would have needed to win here, and at next week’s season-ending Titleholders tournament, to have a chance of capturing the honor.
Park, who has won twice this season, admitted she was looking forward to playing next week without the pressure of the Player of the Year race.
“I’ll just try to enjoy myself next week because I tried to put too much pressure on myself this week so next week will be better,” she said.