Patty Tavatanakit holds off Lydia Ko at ANA Inspiration, wins first major

After going to bed with the lead for three straight nights, Patty Tavatanakit was never going to look back.

Tavatanakit, the 21-year-old rookie from Thailand, shot a 4-under 68 and completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday at the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major of the season, at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

By finishing at 18 under for the event, Tavatanakit (66-69-67-68) outlasted a furious charge by Lydia Ko, who set a women’s major record with a final-round 62. Ko settled for second place at 16 under.

Tavatanakit is the first rookie to win the Inspiration since 1984, and the first LPGA player to make the Inspiration her first career victory on the tour.

“I just wanted to be done since this morning,” Tavatanakit said. “Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, but I meditated twice this morning and just (stayed) patient. It was gonna be hard out here. I knew I gotta be really strong mentally.”

Tavatanakit, who entered the final round with a five-stroke lead, chipped in for eagle on the par-5 second hole. She added birdies on holes 8 and 12 on her way to a bogey-free round.

Meanwhile, playing several holes ahead of the leader, Ko lit up the course. A birdie-eagle start to her round propelled the New Zealander to a 29 on the front nine, a new nine-hole scoring record for the event often likened to the LPGA’s Masters.

By the 11th hole, Ko had drained seven birdies and an eagle to threaten Tavatanakit’s lead, but she finished with just one birdie over her final seven holes.

Ko, 23, won the Inspiration in 2016 and was seeking her third major title.

For her part, Tavatanakit did not engage in scoreboard-watching, saying she did not know how Ko had performed.

“At no point,” Tavatanakit said. “No, not even on the 18th.”

Four players tied for third at 11 under: American Nelly Korda, Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark, Sei Young Kim of South Korea and Shanshan Feng of China.

One stroke behind in a tie for seventh were seven-time major winner Inbee Park and Jin Young Ko, both of South Korea, and Ally Ewing of the U.S.

Before the Inspiration, Tavatanakit’s best finish of the season was a tie for fifth at the Gainbridge LPGA in February.

On Sunday, she joined the long line of women to partake in the tradition of Inspiration champions to celebrate by jumping into Poppie’s Pond next to Mission Hills’ 18th green.

“It feels great to be a major champion,” Tavatanakit said. “It still hasn’t really sunk in yet, the fact that I just turned 21 six months ago and now I’m a major champion on my rookie year. Just crazy.”

Blogs

Five Observations From OSU’s 40-21 Win Over Tulsa

By Michael Doutey It wasn’t always pretty for Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys leave non-conference play 3-0 after a 40-21 win over Tulsa Saturday afternoon. The Pokes had some great moments and also had some learning moments. But the Pokes get the win and now look to next week and a trip to Austin to…

Five Observations from OSU’s Dominating 56-14 Win over McNeese

By Michael Doutey The Oklahoma State Cowboys handled their business against McNeese, 56-14 in OSU’s home opener in front of a sold-out Boone Pickens Stadium. Now the Pokes turn to week three and their short road trip to Tulsa to face the Golden Hurricanes. But here are tonight’s five observations from the Poke’s second win…

Mike Gundy’s Press Conference for McNeese

by Michael Doutey Mike Gundy met with the media this afternoon to brief the media before Oklahoma State’s home opener against McNeese. One of the bigger things that came from today’s press conference was an update on Senior linebacker, Calvin Bundage. Bundage had a back injury that kept him out most of fall camp. But…

Five Observations from Oklahoma State’s 52-36 Win over Oregon State

By Michael Doutey The Oklahoma State Cowboys open the season with a road victory 52-36 over Oregon State. The Cowboys were dominant on offense while the defense looked much like it has in the past. But the Pokes get their win and look like they have found their quarterback of the future in Spencer Sanders.…