Patty Tavatanakit opened with a brilliant round of 6-under 66 to grab the day-one lead at the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major of 2021.
The 21-year old rookie navigated her way around the famed Dinah Shore course like an old pro, picking her spots to score – namely on the par-5s, while being content with pars everywhere else.
“It was a pretty calm and relaxing day today. I just stuck to my game plan and didn’t get too greedy out there. I know it’s a major, it’s tough, the course is really tough,” said Tavatanakit. “I was just being really patient and I was waiting for putts to drop, and they did on the back nine.”
The Thailand native’s patience paid off in a big way with four putts dropping for birdies on her homeward set, highlighted by a hat trick of gains on Nos. 13-15, and then a sixth and final birdie on the iconic finishing hole to secure the day-one marquee position.
“Today, even though it’s a 6-under, it was not a perfect golf. It was, I mean, a lot out there, but I would take that any day. Golf is not a perfect sport,” said Tavatanakit, who was the 2019 ANA Inspiration low amateur.
“I feel like just growth into being in contention and just keep learning, keep being in it. Eventually like I’ll be able to finish it out. It doesn’t have to be this week. I have a long career ahead of me, and I’m just going to keep playing the way I’m playing.”
Just one off the pace was Ireland’s Leona Maguire and old friend Shanshan Feng of China, who’s making her first start since the 2019 season.
“Last year was a difficult year for everybody, and I just made a decision at the middle of the year to go back to China and maybe take some time off with my friends and family at home,” said Feng, who owns one major title, the 2012 KPMG PGA.
“And I really enjoyed the whole time over there, but of course I missed play. So I started to practice like maybe a few months ago. Tried to come back little earlier but I couldn’t because on the visa.
“I would say that I’m mentally very fresh because this is my first tournament in, I don’t know, 13, 14 months I guess. So I am mentally very fresh and I feel like my body is maybe back to like 25. Not quite 18, but back to maybe like 25, so able to get through the 18. I’m feeling good.”
American Megan Khang shot 68 to join Anna Nordqvist, Ariya Jutanugarn and Moriya Jutanugarn in the T4 position.
Defending champion Mirim Lee headlines a group of eight players tied for eighth-place on 3 under.
“It was great today and then I play better. I play better and then I had couple like miss shot, but I made lots of par and then birdies,” said Lee. “Putting is good and then irons, irons better, and then still drives is a little bit challenge but not bad.”
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Jessica Korda were two other headliners in the T8 logjam.
2021 ANA Inspiration
Leaderboard: Top 10
Pos-Player-To Par (Score)
1. Patty Tavatanakit -6 (66)
2. Leona Maguire -5 (67)
2. Shanshan Feng -5 (67)
4. Megan Khang -4 (68)
4. Anna Nordqvist -4 (68)
4. Ariya Jutanugarn -4 (68)
4. Moriya Jutanugarn -4 (68)
8. Eight Players Tied -3 (69)
Developing… Will be updated…