CLIFTON, N.J. Lorena Ochoa found a new way to win, grinding it out instead of running away from the field.
A day after leaving the retiring Annika Sorenstam in her wake, Ochoa overcame a balky putter to shoot a 1-under 71 for a one-stroke victory over five players Sunday for her third straight victory in the rain-shortened Sybase Classic.
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 win also ended the 26-year-old Mexican's two-tournament victory drought and reaffirmed her status as the best player in women's golf.
AT&T CLASSIC: At Duluth, Ga., Ryuji Imada watched someone else go in the water this time. Imada claimed his first PGA Tour victory, beating Kenny Perry in a playoff at the AT&T Classic after losing the tournament a year ago on the 73rd hole. The two 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. 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.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: At Hoover, Ala., Andy Bean hasn't forgotten how to pull off a dramatic victory. Bean managed to save par on No. 18 after hooking his drive left and bogeying the previous hole, holding on for a 2-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Loren Roberts in the Champions Tour's Regions Charity Classic. 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.
NATIONWIDE TOUR: At Greer, S.C., David Mathis won the BMW Charity Pro-Am for his first Nationwide Tour title, closing with a 3-under 68 for a three-stroke victory over Roger Tambellini, while Wayne Gretzky teamed with Chris Nallen to win the Pro-Am title. Mathis finished at 20-under 266 and earned $121,500 and a BMW X5. He jumped from 44th to fourth on the money list with $166,479, with the top 25 at the end of the year earning 2009 PGA Tour cards. Tambellini finished with a 65. Utah's Boyd Summerhays finished with a 278.