ANA Inspiration: Patty Tavatanakit repels Lydia Ko’s 62 charge to win at Mission Hills
Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit kept her composure amid an historic round by Lydia Ko to win the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club.
Ko piled the pressure on Tavatanakit with a 10-under 62 – the lowest-ever final round in a women’s major – but the 21-year-old world No 103 held firm at the top of the leaderboard to complete a wire-to-wire victory and claim her first LPGA Tour success in the opening major of the year.
Tavatanakit closed with a four-under 68 – her fourth round in the 60s after a 66, 69 and 67 – to finish on 18-under 270, two ahead of Ko.
Tavatanakit was five clear heading into the final round, but former world No 1 Ko, the 2016 champion at Rancho Mirage but without a win since April 2018, had already started her charge by the time she teed off.
New Zealander Ko, who started eight off the lead, birdied the first and then added an eagle at the second, which was matched by Tavatanakit as she made an impressive start to remain clear at the top.
Further birdies followed for Ko, 23, at the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth as she reached the turn in a course-record 29 blows.
Tavatanakit, whose length off the tee has been a feature of her game this week with an average drive of 323 yards, continued to play flawless and composed golf out in front, though, despite the birdie barrage from Ko which continued at the 10th, 11th and 15th.
The latter birdie moved Ko within two of Tavatanakit, who had birdied the 12th, but she could only par the final three holes to equal the course record set by Lorena Ochoa in 2016 and record only the fourth 62 in a women’s major (Hyo Joo Kim fired a 61 at the 2014 Evian Championship for the lowest-ever score).
A poor drive and over-hit birdie putt at the 15th tested Tavatanakit but she managed to make par from around 12 feet, the putt almost horseshoeing out, and she parred 16 and 17 to arrive at the 18th tee still two clear.
She then calmly made another rock-solid par at the last to wrap up the victory and spark the celebrations on the 18th green.
Tavatanakit, who took the traditional leap into Poppie’s Pond before receiving the trophy, insisted afterwards she had not been aware of Ko’s charge.
“I had no idea,” she said. “Didn’t look at the leaderboard at all today just because I wanted to play my own game, which I did, and did a really good job of that today.
“I just kept hitting good shots, my putts were rolling well. Just didn’t read it well today. Overall I feel I stuck to my game plan, I overcame the adversity out there. It was tough mentally and I just feel like it was a lot going on and I feel I handled it pretty well.”
American Nelly Korda, Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark and South Korea’s Sei Young Kim all carded 66s to share third place on 11 under with China’s Shanshan Feng (69).
Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park of South Korea, the world No 1 and No 2, carded rounds of 68 and 69 respectively, to tie for seventh on 10 under along with American Ally Ewing (71).
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England’s Charley Hull, who started seven off the lead, made an encouraging start with birdies at the first and third, but she was unable to match Ko’s charge and could only add one more birdie, along with three bogeys, for a level-par 72 to tie for 14th place, along with compatriot Mel Reid, who closed with a five-under 67.
Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow also signed off with a 67 to finish in a tie for 19th place on six under, while Leona Maguire of Ireland (70) ended up in a tie for 28th on four under.
England’s Georgia Hall (69) was one further back, tied for 36th on three under, with compatriot Bronte Law (69) sharing 50th spot on level par.
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