It was an all-American day at the Guadalajara Country Club on Sunday, as Cristie Kerr broke a two-year winless streak and Stacy Lewis wrapped up Rolex Player of the Year honors at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Here are 5 Things to take away from the week in Mexico:
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1. LONG TIME COMING: Cristie Kerr is one of the biggest names in women’s golf, but she hadn’t won since the LPGA State Farm Classic in 2010.
That all changed Sunday after Kerr parred the final three holes to hold off both Inbee Park and Angela Stanford to win the $200,000 winner’s check in the 36-player invitational. Kerr finished at 16-under 272 (67-69-67-69).
“Coming in those last couple of holes it didn’t feel like I had won before,” Kerr said. “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.”
It was Kerr’s 15th career victory, 10 of which came before 2007.
Kerr had five top-10s in 2012 coming into the week, with her best being a pair of T-4 performances (LPGA Lotte, Safeway). Kerr has never finished worse than T-13 in five appearances at the Ochoa Invitational.
“Yeah, I was nervous,” Kerr said. “I haven’t been in this position to win in a while. To even have one putt to win, or two putts to win, I wasn’t nervous for messing up, but it was hard to control the amount of adrenaline that was in my system.
“I just tried to take some breaths and calm myself down and I still can’t believe how hard I hit that first putt. I gave the fans and myself a heart attack, but I stayed in there mentally until the end.”
Kerr was the fourth American to win on the LPGA tour this season. They’ve accounted for eight victories overall.
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2. 18 YEARS IN THE MAKING: Stacy Lewis shot 4-under 68 Sunday to finish T-4 and clinch the Rolex Player of the Year award, the first American to win it since Beth Daniel in 1994. Park was the only player that had a chance to supplant Lewis atop the Rolex rankings, but needed to win both the Ochoa Invitational and the season-ending CME Titleholders and have Lewis finish outside the top 10 in each.
“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.
“It was a lot of pressure you know? That’s what everyone has been talking about- and I’m just glad that I took care of it this week. I didn’t play my best but I got it done when I needed to.”
Lewis has won four times on tour this season and has tallied an eye-opening 16 top-10s, by far her most successful season as a professional. She has missed only one cut this season, that coming in April at the LPGA Lotte Championship.
She has earned more than $1.8 million for her efforts in 2012.
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3. OUT OF THE PARK: Holding a two-shot lead over Kerr after 54 holes, Inbee Park looked to be in control after picking up 11 birdies against a single bogey in Rounds 2 and 3.
But Park had four bogeys and four birdies en route to an even-par 72.
Park has enjoyed her best season on the tour in 2012, winning twice, picking up 12 top-10s and pocketing just over $2.2 million in the process.
“Everything has improved in my game and I’m really just happy I’m in contention almost every week,” Park said. “That’s given me a lot of experience and it gives me a lot more to do next year.”
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4. IT DOESN’T GET WIE-SIER: Michelle Wie has shown glimpses of her old self this season, but she continues to fail to put four good rounds of golf together.
This week was another example. She shot 6-under 66 Thursday to share the lead, only to follow it with a 3-over 75 on Friday. She came back with 67 on Saturday, but closed with 74 Sunday to finish T-14.
Wie has missed nine of 23 cuts this season, while finishing no higher than T-8.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Host Lorena Ochoa finished T-18 after shooting rounds of 71-72-70-71. She had the best finish of the three countrymen that played … After back-to-back titles for Suzann Pettersen, she finished T-12, nine shots back of Kerr … Angela Stanford finished T-2 with Park, one shot back of Kerr. This was her sixth top 10 of the season … Katherine Hull had her best finish (T-8) since the beginning of June when she was the runner-up at the Shoprite LPGA Classic… Yani Tseng was 3 under heading into the weekend. She went on to shoot 76-72 on the weekend and finished 26th out of 36 golfers.
– Cassie Stein contributed to this report