World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa birdied the last hole to hold off Natalie Gulbis and win the US$1 million top prize at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship in Florida on Sunday.
Mexico's Ochoa stumbled to a double-bogey five at the 17th hole and the four-stroke lead she had enjoyed since the sixth hole shrank to a single shot as Gulbis birdied the 17th.
But Ochoa answered with a birdie on the final hole to finish on four-under par 68, two strokes better than US standout Gulbis to claim the largest prize in women's golf by winning an 18-hole, eight-woman shootout.
"This is a great way to end a great year," Ochoa said. "One of my goals was to win more titles than [six from] last year and to win a first major. I've done both."
Ochoa, who won the Women's British Open, captured her eighth title of the year and boosted her record prize money total above US$4.4 million.
But her downfall nearly came on the 17th, which she had quadruple bogeyed on Thursday.
"As I look back on 17, my caddie was like, `OK, we have one more hole, just finish,'" Ochoa said. "And I just won the tournament."
Gulbis was going for the pin at the 18th as she had all day but settled for par on the final hole.
"My whole philosophy today was to play aggressive," Gulbis said. "I was firing at pins from the very first hole. Some of the shots were not going at the pins, but I was still firing at them."
Eight survivors from a field of 32 that endured two qualifying rounds played in the one-round showdown.
Ochoa, who had already clinched the LPGA season money crown and top player honors, jumped to a four-stroke lead after only six holes.
She birdied the second, third, fifth and six to reach four-under par while no rival was below par.
Ochoa then birdied the par-5 ninth to make the turn five-under with Paula Creamer and Gulbis her nearest rivals on level par.
Creamer birdied the 11th and Gulbis the 13th to each stand within four of Ochoa with only five holes to play, setting the stage for Ochoa's stumble and eventual salvation.
Creamer was third on par 72 followed by compatriot Cristie Kerr on 74, South Koreans Kim Mi-hyun on 78 and Sarah Lee on 80, US veteran Christina Kim on 81 and Australian Karrie Webb on 84.