Tavatanakit holds off Ko to win first LPGA title

9: 38 PM ET

  • Associated Press

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Patty Tavatanakit had no idea Lydia Ko became once tearing up the path three groups ahead on Sunday within the closing spherical of the ANA Inspiration.

“Did now not perceive on the leaderboard at all at the moment,” Tavatanakit said. “Valid resulting from — I noticed her establish up there, but I did now not perceive at it — I wished to play my salvage sport, which I did, and did a terribly comely job of that at the moment.”

With a chip-in eagle on the par-5 second, two birdies and fairly about a par saves, the long-hitting Thai player survived Ko’s fee without realizing how shut it became once except she carried out and became once preparing for the worn victory soar into Poppie’s Pond.

“Love I said, I did now not if truth be told perceive on the leaderboard,” Tavatanakit said “I did now not if truth be told care who did the leisure. I staunch wished to focal level on myself.”

Five strokes ahead entering the day and six in front after the eagle, Tavatanakit shot a 4-beneath 68 in 100-level warmth to beat Ko by two strokes within the first major championship of the year.

“It still hasn’t if truth be told sunk in but the reality that I staunch turned 21 six months within the past and now I’m a important champion in my rookie year,” Tavatanakit said. “Valid loopy.”

Ko matched Lorena Ochoa’s 2006 match document with a 62, taking pictures 7-beneath 29 on the front 9 for the actual 9-hole uncover in match’s 50-year history. The Novel Zealander started the day tied for seventh at 6 beneath, eight strokes within the help of Tavatanakit within the match played without spectators for the second time in seven months.

“My sport became once if truth be told real, and I felt worship I gave myself a comely lunge at it, but most certainly Patty became once staunch a minute bit too a long way-off,” Ko said. “I salvage it staunch reveals it would now not topic how a long way help you are, you are going to constantly hotfoot for it.”

Winless since April 2018, the 23-year-outdated college Ko played the first 11 holes in 9 beneath and added a birdie on the par-4 15th. On the par-5 18th, she drove into tough shut to the water that lines the left aspect, laid up and hit a wedge 30 toes long and criminal. Her birdie try neglected to the left, stopping inches away.

“I develop now not salvage it became once worship there became once an proper moment where I felt worship, ‘OK, here’s going to be a comely one,”’ Ko said. “Especially spherical a path worship this, you staunch must focal level except that final putt drops within the final hole.”

The low amateur within the 2019 match as a UCLA sophomore, Tavatanakit parred the final six holes within the bogey-free spherical.

Her 8-footer on the par-4 15th circled the cup and dropped in, she lagged a 45-footer to 2 toes on the par-4 16th, and chipped to inches on the par-3 17th after missing the fairway left.

Tavatanakit carried out the wire-to-wire victory with a transient par putt on 18. A day after matching the match 54-hole document of 14 beneath pickle by Pernilla Lindberg in her 2018 victory, Tavatanakit carried out a stroke off Dottie Pepper’s 72-hole label of 19 beneath pickle in 1999.

“Or now not it’s a dream reach factual,” Tavatanakit said. “At any time when I play here, I take into account precisely I became once on this green receiving my low amateur award, and I noticed they had been leaping and I took a Snapchat and the caption became once, ‘In some unspecified time in the future.’ Or now not it has been loopy.”

Ranked 103rd within the field, Tavatanakit turned the sixth straight worldwide winner within the match, the first rookie champion since Juli Inkster in 1984 and the fourth straight first-time major winner. She obtained seven times in two seasons at UCLA and had three Symetra Tour victories in 2019.

“Coming into this year, I did now not if truth be told pickle any goals staunch resulting from I knew how complex it became once final year,” Tavatanakit said. “I staunch wished to reach out, to learn to be a wiser player.”

Ko has 15 LPGA Tour victories, winning at Mission Hills in 2016 for her second major victory.

“I’ve if truth be told staunch tried to rejoice available, and I salvage that is this kind of tall key for me,” Ko said. “For of us that’re taking part in it, I salvage all the pieces more or less follows.”

Nelly Korda (66), Sei Younger Kim (66), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (66) and Shanshan Feng (69) tied for third at 11 beneath.

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