Tavatanakit holds off charging Ko in ANA Inspiration

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Patty Tavatanakit, of Thailand, jumps into the water after winning the LPGA's ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club on Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Patty Tavatanakit had no idea Lydia Ko was tearing up the course three groups ahead Sunday in the final round of the ANA Inspiration.

“Didn’t look at the leaderboard at all today," Tavatanakit said. "Just because — I saw her name up there, but I didn’t look at it — I wanted to play my own game, which I did, and did a really good job of that today.”

With a chip-in eagle on the par-5 second, two birdies and a lot of par saves, the long-hitting Thai player survived Ko's charge without realizing how close it was until she finished and was preparing for the traditional victory leap into Poppie’s Pond.

“Like I said, I didn’t really look at the leaderboard,” Tavatanakit said “I didn’t really care who did anything. I just wanted to focus on myself.”

Five strokes ahead entering the day and six in front after the eagle, Tavatanakit shot a 4-under 68 in 100-degree heat to beat Ko by two strokes in the first major championship of the year.

“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 in my rookie year,” Tavatanakit said. “Just crazy.”

Ko matched Lorena Ochoa's 2006 tournament record with a 62, shooting 7-under 29 on the front nine for the best nine-hole score in event's 50-year history. The New Zealander began the day tied for seventh at 6 under, eight strokes behind Tavatanakit in the tournament played without spectators for the second time in seven months.

“My game was really solid and I felt like I gave myself a good run at it, but maybe Patty was just a bit too far away,” Ko said. “I think it just shows it doesn’t matter how far back you are, you can always go for it.”