Doug Ferguson captures the excitement that the NBC announce crew kept suggesting was almost inevitable: Lorena Ochoa and Trump International's perilous 17th hole:
Despite being the No. 1 player in women's golf, Ochoa has a short history of blowing tournaments, and this would have been a doozy. After blowing away the seven other players who qualified for this 18-hole shootout, she had a four-shot lead with two holes to play.
But she butchered the par-3 17th with an 8-iron over the back of the green, a putt that got hung up in the fluffy rough, and three more putts from 20 feet for a double bogey. Gulbis made a 7-foot birdie putt, narrowing the lead to one shot with one hole to play.
It was about the only drama of the balmy afternoon, certainly more than Ochoa needed.
"It was fun for the fans and for all of you," she said, "but it didn't feel very good."
Ochoa hammered a tee shot over the corner of the lake and the bunker, but it wasn't enough to hop out of the rough, and the ball sank to the bottom of the grass. Gulbis hit first, a hybrid 3-iron that covered the flag and put even more pressure on Ochoa.
"Lorena was spending a lot of time looking at her lie, so I was assuming that the lie was not very good," Gulbis said. "She's the best player in the world, so I thought that at least we'd get kind of an eye-for-an-eye putt at it."
Steve Elling considers Ochoa's 8-win season and offers these incredible numbers along with her place in the game:
Most impressively, she finished in the top 10 in 21 of 25 starts and won five of her past nine starts. It was her eighth victory of the year, or for those who like their news with a lyrical bent, ocho for Ochoa. It has been a long, productive year.
"It's time to go home," Ochoa said.
As further testament to her emergence, the tour is doing likewise with its events. Next year, Ochoa will become the second active player to host her own tournament, one of a trio of events scheduled in Mexico in 2008. In 2004, there were nada.
Not that pesos are the best yardstick of success, since the purses only continue to head north, but Ochoa obliterated the old earnings mark, set by Annika Sorenstam during her 11-win season in 2002, by $1.5 million. She finished the season with $4,364,994, roughly 2½ times what runner-up Suzann Pettersen took home.
"It's been amazing from the start to the end," Ochoa said.