Patty Tavatanakit, a 21-year-old rookie, holds off Lydia Ko’s historic round for ANA Inspiration victory

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Even history couldn't stop Patty Tavatanakit Sunday at the ANA Inspiration.

Lydia Ko shot one of the greatest final rounds in LPGA major championship history on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club, but all that did was put Ko within shouting distance of the dominant Tavatanakit. 

Tavatanakit, a rising 21-year-old star from Thailand and UCLA, completed a wire-to-wire victory to make the major championship her first LPGA win. Starting the day with a five-shot lead, Tavatanakit did everything she needed to do on a warm, windless day in Rancho Mirage to hold onto the victory.

“I was playing my own game and didn’t look at the leader board at all today,” Tavatanakit said.

Patty Tavatanakit holds the trophy after winning the LPGA's first major, the ANA Inspiration, at Mission Hills Country Club. (Photo: Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun)

But Ko's heroics, scorching the Shore Course for a tournament-tying single-round record 62, included a tournament-record 29 on the front nine and kept the tournament title in doubt until late in the day. In the end, though, Ko could get no closer to Tavatanakit than two shots.

Tavatanakit's 4-under 68 Sunday gave her an 18-under 270 total, one shot shy of the event's scoring record of 19-under set in 1999 by Dottie Pepper.

A leap into history 🏆@Patty_MPT makes her leap into Poppie’s Pond as a major [email protected]/uGD9l0LLlL

“I just kept hitting good shots and my putting, I rolled it well just didn’t read it well today,” Tavatanakit said. “But overall I feel like I really stuck to my gameplan and I overcome the adversity out there. It was tough mentally, and there was a lot going on and I felt like I handled it pretty well.”

Ko finished at 16-under, threatening on the back nine to shoot the second 59 in LPGA history until a string of six pars in her final seven holes.

Cruise control for final 18 holes

While Ko's round made the tournament interesting Sunday afternoon, the truth is Tavatanakit was in control of the tournament all day. That was evident from the second hole when Tavatanakit's second shot on the par 5 trickled into the back rough, but she chipped the ball in for an eagle-3 that seemed to end all suspense for the day by giving her a seven-shot lead for the moment. a birdie on the par-3 eighth put Tavatanakit at 17-under for the tournament.

What Tavatanakit didn't know was the Ko was sizzling to a 7-under 29 on the front nine. That included a birdie-eagle and four more birdies in the next seven holes. Having started the day eight shots back, Ko suddenly three shots back.

Take a bow, Lydia Ko! 👏

Ko ties the 18-hole @ANAinspiration record with a final round 62!

"I don't think it was like there was an exact moment where I felt like, okay, this is going to be a good one," said Ko, 23 but a 15-time LPGA major winner despite having not won since 2018. "Especially around a course like this, you just have to focus until that last putt drops in the last hole."

Birdies on the 10th and 11th holes put Ko in the middle of the 15-under and just two shots back of Tavatanakit, but Ko's round slowed after that. Tavatanakit, on the other hand, moved to 18 under with a one-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole. After that, Ko and Tavatanakit combined for just one birdie the rest of the round, a birdie by Ko on the par-4 15th.

Neither player went for the island green in two on the par-5 18th despite the 485-yard tees, both laying up and two-putting for routine pars.

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