Brilliant Patty Tavatanakit Denies Surging Lydia Ko at ANA Inspiration
Rookie Patty Tavatanakit won her first major, holding off Lydia Ko, who produced a stunning final round of 62 at the ANA Inspiration.
Tavatanakit, a 21-year-old from Thailand, shot a four-under 68 to complete a wire-to-wire victory at Rancho Mirage, finishing two clear of Ko, who set a tournament-record 29 on the front nine and matched Lorena Ochoa's record low score for a round.
Tavatanakit is the first rookie to win the event since Juli Inkster in 1984. "I just wanted to be done since this morning," she said after claiming her first LPGA title. "I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but I meditated twice this morning and just stayed patient. I knew I had to be really strong mentally.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said, still dripping from her traditional winner’s plunge into Poppie’s Pond. “It makes me feel accomplished. You know, coming into this year I didn't really set any goals because I knew how tough golf in general was last year. I just wanted to come out and learn to be a better player.
“My dad told me that you should set a goal of being inside the top 100 on the Rolex Rankings and top 60 on the points list. But it’s been kind of my goal at the back of my mind, I really wanted to win. But I didn't expect to win here.”
Ko, who won the tournament in 2016, made seven birdies and an eagle on the first 11 holes of the Dinah Shore course to threaten Tavatanakit's lead. However Ko, who was world No 1 at the age of 17 but has failed to win a tournament for three years, could manage just one more birdie in the final seven holes.
"It just shows it doesn't matter how far back you are, you can always go for it," added the two-time major winner, who had started the day eight shots adrift.
Ko's bogey-free 62 is the lowest final round in LPGA major history and suggests her rebuild with coach Sean Foley is close to bearing fruit. England's Charley Hall was tied for 14th on seven under alongside compatriot Mel Reid, who finished strongly with a 67.
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