MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Lorena Ochoa is trying to wrap up the LPGA Tour’s player of the year award before she faces Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb again.

Ochoa leads the three-player points battle and can secure the title with a victory Sunday in the LPGA Tournament of Champions.

The $1 million tournament starts Thursday at Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course.

Sorenstam is playing in Greg Norman’s Merrill Lynch Shootout this week, while Webb is taking a break after winning the Mizuno Classic in Japan to move into second place in the points race. Either Sorenstam or Webb has won every year since 1997.

“Obviously, that’s my goal, that’s my dream, just to get that done and to be the best player (for) 2006,” said the 24-year-old Ochoa, who leads the player of the year race with 283 points. Webb has 244 and Sorenstam 227. “This is a big tournament. It is very important. I need to take advantage that Karrie and Annika are not here and have a good week to make sure I keep making some more points and get more advantage in that,” Ochoa said. “I don’t want to put any more pressure and just be thinking of that.”

Ochoa will be trying to win her third consecutive tournament and sixth of the year. She took a three-week break after winning the Corona Morelia championship in her native Mexico and then overtaking Sorenstam in a final-round duel in the Samsung World Championship in Palm Springs, Calif.

“It was nice to go home after a couple of wins and celebrate with my family and close friends and fans that always follow me,” Ochoa said. “The year is not over yet. We have two big tournaments to play. I’m thinking one step at a time. “

I’m going to do the same things I always do, making sure I play consistent and finish in a good position.”

If Ochoa is unable to clinch this week, the year-end awards will all be decided next week at the season-ending ADT Championship, where the winner will receive $1 million. The only hope for Webb or Sorenstam to overtake Ochoa for player of the year is for one of them to win final event and hope Ochoa fails to pick up points in the last two tournaments.

Last year, U.S. Solheim Cup star Christina Kim won her second career title, closing with a 5-under 67 for a one-stroke victory over Australia’s Rachel Hetherington.

AP-ES-11-08-06 1807EST

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