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Ochoa wins Samsung by 4; clinches player of the year

Lorena Ochoa, Samsung World Championship, Round 4
Reed Saxon/AP
Lorena Ochoa won her seventh title of the year.

PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) — Lorena Ochoa enjoys life at the top, and she intends to stay there for a while.

Ochoa clinched her second straight LPGA Tour player of the year award with a runaway victory Sunday in the Samsung World Championship.

Successfully defending her title in the elite event, Ochoa crafted a closing 6-under 66 in what began as a pressure-packed final round. The title was her seventh of the year and 16th overall.

She finished at 18-under 270 — four shots ahead of Mi Hyun Kim — and earned $250,000 to push her record total to $3,318,421.

"After what happened in 2006, I thought it would be hard to improve, but here I am," said the smiling Ochoa, who won six times last year.

Asked how she plans to remain No. 1, she said, "I always try to be one step ahead; not let any distractions get in the way, get in my practice and my rest.

"And there are a lot of things to improve. I'm going to work hard."

Kim closed with a 69. Angela Park, this year's rookie of the year, and Jeong Jang shot 70s to tie for third at 13 under.

Kim said that Ochoa, unlike many other players who hit the ball long, also has a fine short game.

"She is still young, but mentally good, and if she hits long, she hits a good putt. She has a lot of good things. I'm jealous," Kim said, grinning.

She added that, because Ochoa is so long off the tee, "I want to ask her, I want to get 10 yards distance from her."

Asked later if she were willing to give Kim a 10-yard advantage, Ochoa laughed and said, "No."

The Mexican star who turns 26 next month began the day tied at the top with Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who beat her in a playoff a week earlier.

Kim, Jang and Park all began the final round at Big Horn Golf Club just one shot behind the co-leaders.

Ochoa's game was solid from tee to cup, and she was particularly deadly with her irons. She also snaked in a 15-foot birdie putt to take clear command on No. 15, and sank a couple of 10-footers for birdies during her round.

She made a 5-footer to birdie the first hole and take the lead alone and was in front until Jang birdied No. 9 to draw even at 15 under.

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