LPGA – ANA INSPIRATION 46 YEARS HISTORY HAS NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE – Pernilla Lindberg, Inbee Park

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Updated: April 1, 2018

SIRAK: GOLF SO GOOD, IT NEEDS ANOTHER DAY TO FINISH

There have been many memorable Sundays in the 46-year history of what is now the ANA Inspiration, but never has any LPGA major championship had a finish quite like this. In fact, there wasn’t a finish. With a leaderboard littered with more Cinderellas than a Walt Disney movie, this magical day at Mission Hills careened through a Mister Toad’s Wild Ride of a final round that finally went four playoff holes and still that was not enough to determine a winner.
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Two of those in the playoff – Pernilla Lindberg and Jennifer Song – are true Cinderallas – while the third – Inbee Park – is every inch a princess among players. Song was eliminated when she could not match the birdies by Park and Lindberg on the third extra hole while Inbee and Pernilla both scared the hole with birdie tries the fourth time around, putting through the shadow of lights hastily erected to offset the fading sunlight.

Now Park and Lindberg will return to Mission Hills on Monday for an 8 a.m. Pacific start on No. 10. If it remains tied after the fifth playoff hole, they will go to 17 and then 18.

To say this tournament had everything is to sell short the drama that unfolded. There were two sister acts in the mix and among those who made appearances on the final-round leaderboard were a few who’d never won a major – Jessica Korda, Charley Hull and Caroline Masson among them – and a slew who had never even won a regular LPGA event, including Lindberg, Song, Nelly Korda, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Ayako Uehara, Moriya Jutanugarn and Amy Olson.

Meanwhile, Park is trying for her 20th LPGA victory and eighth major championship. She was, once again remarkably in control, making putt after putt, including a difficult, downhill 25-footer on No. 17 as she birdied four of her last six holes. Through 72 holes, she used only 107 putts.

For Ron Sirak’s final-round recap, visit: https://bit.ly/2EcuEhI

For more on the final round, and “Five Things to Know” visit: https://bit.ly/2GvwpZr

WITH A WIN…

With a win, Pernilla Lindberg would become a Rolex First-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour

Lindberg would be the fifth player to make the ANA Inspiration her first LPGA Tour victory, joining Helen Alfredsson (1993), Nanci Bowen (1995), Morgan Pressel (2007) and Stacy Lewis (2011)

Lindberg would be the 16th player to win the ANA Inspiration as her first major title and the first since Lexi Thompson in 2014

Lindberg would be the 11th player from Sweden to win on the LPGA Tour, joining Helen Alfredsson, Louise Friberg, Sophie Gustafson, Carin Koch, Maria McBride, Liselotte Neumann, Catrin Nilsmark, Anna Nordqvist, Annika Sorenstam and Charlotta Sorenstam

Lindberg would join Helen Alfredsson and Annika Sorenstam as Swedish players to win the ANA Inspiration

Lindberg would be the fourth player to take a wire-to-wire victory at the ANA Inspiration (including ties), joining Pat Bradley (1986), Betsy King (1987) and Pat Hurst (1998)

Lindberg would earn a berth in the 2019 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions

With a win, Lindberg would earn $420,000, to make for $461,036 this season and $2,347,545 in her career

Lindberg or Inbee Park would be the third consecutive international player to win the ANA Inspiration, following So Yeon Ryu (Republic of Korea, 2017) and Lydia Ko (New Zealand, 2016)

A win on Monday would be Park’s eighth major victory; she would move into a tie for sixth on the all-time major victory list, tied with Betsy Rawls and behind Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Babe Zaharias (10) and Annika Sorenstam (10)

A win would be Park’s 20th career LPGA victory; she would move into a tie for 26th on the LPGA’s all-time victories list, tied with Laura Davies and Cristie Kerr

Park would be the first multiple winner of the 2018 LPGA season; on March 18, she won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

With a win, Park would earn $420,000, which would make for $676,586 this season and $14,272,019 in her career, and make her the seventh player in LPGA history to reach $14 million in career earnings

In addition to the winner’s check of $420,000, the winner will also receive:

• Five-year exemption on the LPGA Tour via Category 3 status on the LPGA Priority List (Major Winner)

· Lifetime exemption into the ANA Inspiration

· Five-year exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship

· Two points toward entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame

· 650 points toward the 2018 Race to the CME Globe

· 60 points toward the 2018 Rolex Player of the Year Award and the 2018 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award

NAILBITER FOR KORDA, JUTANUGARN

It was oh so close for Jessica Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn, who reached the clubhouse tied for the lead at 14-under 274 and then could only sit and wait. Korda chatted with her sister Nelly Korda, relaxing in chairs nestled among the flowers in the center of the putting green, while Jutanugarn passed the time by playing Daniel, the toddler son of her caddie, Les Luark.

Ultimately, Korda and Jutanugarn fell out of contention when Jennifer Song birdied the 18th hole to finish at 15-under 275.

“I’m proud of myself for giving myself a chance,” said Korda, who holed out for a spectacular eagle at No. 9 to briefly take the solo lead. “My game plan today was trying to go low and give myself the opportunity to win, and that’s exactly what I did.”

“Today before I teed off, I just felt like I really wanted to keep under control,” added Jutanugarn, who was trying to become the first Thai player to win the ANA Inspiration. “I just want to have fun, because I have great memories here and I love this course.”

SONG INSPIRED BY BEST CAREER FINISH

Jennifer Song turned in her strongest major championship performance and kept Park and Lindberg in her line of sight before being eliminated on the third playoff hole.

“I’ve never been in this position in a major event, and I just wanted to embrace the moment and just take one shot at a time,” said the 28-year-old from Ann Arbor, Mich. “I did not realize what position I was in, and after I made my third shot, I took a look at the scoreboard and realized that I was tied for first. I knew that I needed to make that short birdie putt to go in a playoff, and I made it.”

Song had the support of fellow players Minjee Lee and Sung Hyun Park in the playoff, who both stayed until Song walked off the green.

“[Sung Hyun] just said ‘have fun,’ but they didn’t say anything else,” said Song. “They just nodded at me, so I just nodded back. But just the look on both of their faces, we’re just good friends, so we don’t need any words.”

Song, whose goal is to finish in the top 20 of the LPGA Money List this season, came away from the week with more insight about her playing potential. She set a new career-best result with her runner-up finish on Sunday.

With determination, she said, “I definitely want to win an LPGA event out here, but today I learned that I could be in that spot, so I’ll do my best to get that win.”

NOTABLE QUOTES

Jennifer Song, USA (-15), on being in a playoff:

“I know that I can be up here, and I’m kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to make those putts in the playoffs, but I learned a lot. I’m very grateful, and I’m just loving this moment right now.”

Pernilla Lindberg, Sweden (-15), on her play Sunday:

“I didn’t look at the leaderboard all day. I just had a number in my head all day and that number was 16, so that was a good guess. Obviously, I didn’t get to 16, but I knew, actually, walking off the 18th, Daniel, my caddie, told me I had to make a birdie to get into the playoff, and I did it.”

Inbee Park, Republic of Korea (-15), on her competitor Pernilla Lindberg:

“Yeah, but it’s always exciting to see someone playing really well in a major championship where they haven’t been in that position. I mean even she doesn’t have much experience, she’s in the last group in a playoff, but I think everybody is in the same situation in the playoff. Everybody’s nervous. Everybody wants a major win, so I think we are really playing under the same conditions.”

OF NOTE

Inbee Park has won three of her majors in playoffs; she won the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship in a three-hole playoff with Catriona Matthew, while she took the 2014 Wegmans LPGA Championship in a one-hole playoff with Brittany Lincicome

Park has captured at least one victory in six of the last seven seasons; she did not win a tournament in 2016, but won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics Games

Park has captured multiple wins in four different seasons on the LPGA, including six wins in 2013

In 2016, Park became the youngest player ever to qualify for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame after her 10th start at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Pernilla Lindberg is a 2009 graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in international business

Lindberg’s caddie is her fiance Daniel Taylor

This is the longest playoff in the history of the ANA Inspiration; Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis went three holes in 2015

This is Lindberg’s first career LPGA playoff appearance; Park has a 3-3 career record in LPGA playoffs, 2-0 in majors

Lindberg has never won a professional event (LPGA, LET or Symetra Tour) in her career; she is a 2010 LPGA rookie

Jennifer Song’s runner-up finish is her best career LPGA finish (turned pro in 2010)

Nelly Korda finished T13 to collect her best career finish in a major championship; her previous best was a T20 finish at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

BEING AMY ALCOTT

On the 30th anniversary, Amy Alcott reflects on what inspired her to make her first leap into Poppie’s Pond and how it became one of the great traditions on the LPGA Tour.