LPGA Tour rookie Patty Tavatankit shot a bogey-free final-round 68 to claim a two-shot victory at the ANA Inspiration.
The 21-year old Thai joined Juli Inkster (1984) as the only two players in LPGA history to win the ANA major in their rookie campaigns.
“It’s amazing I’m still calm, there is some calmness in me. I don’t know why. But like I said, I just wanted it to be done since this morning; didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. But I meditated twice this morning. Just be patient. I knew it was going to be hard out here and I got to be really strong mentally,” said Tavatanakit, who became the season’s first Rolex First-Time Winner.
“So it feels great to be a major champion. It still hasn’t really sunk in yet the fact that I’m like, I just turned 21 six months ago and now I’m a major champion in my rookie year.
Tavatanakit began her final day on the Dinah Shore course with a chip-in eagle on No. 2. She followed with a birdie on No. 8 to turn on 3 under and 17 under total. A third score – a birdie on No. 12 – put her 18 under, and, from there, she cruised home with six straight pars to become the 19th player to earn her first major title at the ANA Inspiration.
“I was happy and excited and I got a little emotional, but I just kept telling myself, It’s not over yet. You still have to try your best to make the putt or to two-putt that,” said Tavatanakit.
“I think Ryan, my caddie, saw me got a little bit emotional and he said, Come on. Let’s focus on the last one, which I did. I feel like I just pulled myself out of the emotional state and back to where I needed to be.”
Three groups ahead, former world No. 1 Lydia Ko decided to go for broke and it almost paid off.
Starting the day eight strokes off the pace, Ko made the turn on 7 under, and following two more birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 the lead had been shaved to just two shots with seven to play for Ko and nine for the leader. But Ko was able to only muster one more birdie, which Tavatanakit offset with one of her own, to settle on 62 and a two-shot deficit at 16 under.
Ko’s 29 tied the lowest nine-hole score of any major championship, last recorded by Sei Young Kim in the second round of her win at the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
“To me going into today I didn’t want to play conservatively. I just wanted to go out there and play as aggressively but as smart as I can, and I think to some point when you’re so far behind, all you know is that you need to make as many birdies as you can. It was not a bad position to be in,” said Ko.
“Sean [Foley] gave me a little pep talk on his way to the Masters while I was warming up today, and yeah, this place has so many great memories, me jumping into Poppie’s Pond with my family and team and having my second major championship win here, and even though we don’t technically have friends here, the members were out watching us, and they’ve always supported me and all of us and they love seeing the LPGA here.”
Four players finished T3 on 11 under, including Sei Young Kim (66), Nelly Korda (66), Nanna Koerstz Maden (66) and Shanshan Feng (69).
Jin Young Ko (68), the 2019 ANA champion, finished T7 on 10 under, alongside Inbee Park (69) and Ally Ewing (71).
Megan Khang (67), Moriya Jutanugarn (69), and defending champion Mirim Lee (72) rounded out the top 10 at 9 under.