Shin poised to seal LPGA player of the year honours

Updated: Nov 19, 2009, 14:11 PM IST

London: South Korean Shin Ji-yai, already voted Rookie of the Year, goes into this week`s season-ending LPGA Tour Championship with the circuit`s Player of the Year honours also within her grasp.

Should the 21-year-old go on to seal the deal at The Houstonian Golf and Country Club, she would become the first player to complete the rare double since Nancy Lopez in 1978.

"Now that we have just one tournament left and I`m still on top, I really want it," Shin told reporters on the eve of Thursday`s opening round.

"In the last few months, I said I wanted Player of the Year but I had already made Rookie of the Year. Now it feels really close and I really want it."

Shin, a three-times winner on the LPGA Tour this season, leads the Player of the Year race with 156 points.

Her closest challengers are Mexican world number one Lorena Ochoa (148) and American Cristie Kerr (127) but they each face an uphill task if they are to overhaul Shin this week.

Ochoa, bidding to become Player of the Year for a fourth successive time, needs either a victory at The Houstonian or a finish of no worse than third with Shin earning no points.

First American

Kerr, aiming to become the first American Player of the Year since Beth Daniel in 1994, has to win on Sunday with Ochoa finishing no higher than fourth and Shin coming away with zero points.

"I don`t think it`s a long shot, but everything has to fall into place," said Kerr, a 12-times winner on the LPGA Tour.

"If I can take care of my job and shoot three, four rounds in the 60s, I`ll have a chance."

Asked if she would be keeping a particularly close eye on Ochoa this week, Shin replied: "Just focus on my golf and do my best.”

"If I do my best and I miss the Player of the Year, it will just be unlucky. Lorena could have a good tournament ... so I will just focus on my game and other things will follow."

The bespectacled Shin, who clinched her maiden major title at last year`s women`s British Open, has flourished in her debut season as an LPGA Tour member.

She won the HSBC Women`s Champions, the Wegmans LPGA and the Arkansas Championship and has piled up USD 1.775 million in earnings along with another eight top-10 finishes.

Bureau Report