Golf News for Wednesday, November 25, 2009 | Daily Golf Blogs

Katharine Dyson: What do Lorena Ochoa and NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson have in common?

Jimmie Johnson and Lorena Ochoa are superb athletes at the top of their game. This weekend, both just reached a new milestone in their respective sports.

Johnson, driving ace for Hendrick Motorsports captured his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship, something that has never been done in the 61-year history of NASCAR. Ochoa secured her fourth consecutive Rolex Player of the Year title and her fourth Vare Trophy.

Ochoa's magic "4s" were no slam dunks. There was a lot at stake going into the last event of the 2009 season, the LPGA Tour Championship, presented by Rolex at the Houstonian Country Club. On the final Monday shootout, a necessary extension because of weather delays, Ochoa and Jiyai Shin, the Korean-born Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, were separated by just 8 points for Rolex Player of the Year.

In an exciting photo finish, it came down to the last shot of the 3,096th total number of holes played between Ochoa and Shin before a winner could be declared.

In the battle for points, Ochoa who finished second in the tournament edged out Shin by a meager single point as Shin's putter let her down and she finished 8th. "I like breaking records,' said Ochoa. "I want to stay at the top as long as I continue playing. It's a great year for me because it's been tough in many ways. But the good thing is that I am at the top."

Yes she is and she has worked hard to get there. She is arguably the best women's player in the world and she has earned it. But perhaps just as important as Ochoa's remarkable achievements is recognizing the depth of the LPGA field which has come to light dramatically over the past few tournaments.

There is a new buzz in the air as the LPGA Tour heats up, getting more and more exciting to watch with emerging new faces like Swedish player Anna Nordqvist who kept her cool beating Ochoa by two strokes to take the win and Jiyai Shin, a likable and hard-working Korean-born player at the top of the money list who kept up the pressure right to the end.

Then there is Na Yeon Choi, two-time LPGA winner (2009), Michelle Wie who came into her own at the Solheim Cup and just last week won her first major. Also Cristie Kerr who is 2nd on the money list, Ai Miyazato, Paul Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Angela Stanford and many more elite golfers, all eager to get into the winners circle.

With such a strong field of players, 24 money events on the schedule and new commissioner, Michael Whan with lots of energy and new ideas, 2010 promises to be a great year for the LPGA. The action starts in February in Thailand and Singapore. See it all on The Golf Channel, new home of the LPGA Tour. Stay tuned.

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