Thu, Dec 28, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Golf's Lorena Ochoa named AP Female Athlete of the Year

AP , JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

Lorena Ochoa watches her drive on the fifth hole during the Samsung Challenge at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California, on Oct. 12.

PHOTO: AP

Lorena Ochoa swept all the major honors on the US LPGA and picked up another award at the end of the season with a landslide victory as the AP Female Athlete of the Year.

"That was my goal in January, just to be the best player on the tour," she said recently. "I always knew I could do it. I think I've been raising my level of golf, and also more mature now inside the golf course and outside, too. It helps."

She received 220 points in voting from sports editors around the US, double the point total of French tennis player Amelie Mauresmo, who captured Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Golf Double

Tiger Woods was voted AP Male Athlete of the Year, the first time since 1993 that the male and female athletes came from the same sport (Michael Jordan-Sheryl Swoopes in basketball). And it was the first time since Babe Zaharias and Byron Nelson in 1945 that golfers swept the AP athlete awards.

Maria Sharapova of Russia, who won the US Open in tennis, and Lisa Leslie of the US, who won her third MVP award in the WNBA, tied for third with 60 points. Rounding out the top five were French Open champion Justin Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, and Hannah Teter of the US, a snowboarding gold medalist at the Turin Olympics.

Dynamic

Ochoa has a passion for outdoor adventures, such as mountain climbing, and she brings a fearless attitude to golf. She has emerged as one of the most dynamic players, going after the flag every chance she gets.

"A lot of people get in that zone and they start freaking, but she just keeps plugging away, and I don't know if you can teach that," Juli Inkster said. "She doesn't really worry about anybody else. She just tries to go as low as she can. That's a great mentality to have."

It was the fourth straight year a golfer has won AP Female Athlete. Sweden's Sorenstam won the award the previous three years.

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