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Ochoa on Tiger: 'We both had a great year'

Lorena Ochoa, ADT Championship
Dave Martin/Getty Images
Lorena Ochoa won seven times this year.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Lorena Ochoa was the best player on the LPGA Tour this year, proven by her seven victories, her first major championship and sweeping all the significant awards. She worked hard for this, and she is proud.

But was she the best in all of golf? Better than Tiger Woods?

On this question, she will gladly settle for a tie.

"I'm OK with both being the same and both have a great year," Ochoa said Wednesday at the season-ending ADT Championship, where a victory would push her over the $4 million mark, an astounding figure for women's golf.

"Maybe next year I improve (on) his year," she said with a laugh. "But this year has been pretty similar, and I enjoy the that they talk about it. He won seven times - a major, too. Me, too. So we're the same."

Then she smiled again, enjoying the banter.

Ochoa turns 26 on Thursday, and she has more to celebrate than her birthday. It has been a season she only dreamed about in Mexico when she was 13 and told her coach that her goal was to be the No. 1 player in the world.

She wasn't even sure who was the best back then, probably Laura Davies. Annika Sorenstam had zero wins on the LPGA Tour as a rookie, and Karrie Webb was a year away from winning the Women's British Open - not yet a major - at age 20.

"I told my coach that I wanted to be No. 1 in the world. At that time, with the way I was playing and being in Guadalajara, it was a little bit crazy to think that way," Ochoa said. "But I did it. It took me a long time, but I did it."

In that respect, Woods gets the nod.

He won a major and became No. 1 his first full year as a professional, and there has been no stopping him except the odd years that David Duval (1999) and Vijay Singh (2004) briefly took over.

Ochoa finally caught up to and passed Sorenstam in the spring, and she's not about to look back. Perhaps that's a trait she picked up from mountain climbing as a child. So focused on what she is doing, Ochoa pays little attention to anything around - or behind - her.

"I just try to concentrate on myself and make sure I stay one step ahead and work really hard," Ochoa said. "I like to stay on top, so I'm going to make sure I do whatever it takes to stay at the top."

She has nothing to prove at Trump International.

Even with $1 million going to the winner of this quirky event, Ochoa already has locked up the LPGA money title for the second straight year. She has earned $3.3 million, more than $1.5 million ahead of LPGA champion Suzann Pettersen.

But she is still climbing.

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