Lee-Anne Pace slipped back slightly after a closing-round 73, but still achieved her best finish in a major of her career. Pace ended on 282, 6 shots behind winner Lydia Ko.
Lydia Ko won her second consecutive major title on Sunday, taking the ANA Inspiration by a shot over reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion In Gee Chun and Charley Hull.
The 18-year-old Kiwi shot a final round of 3-under 69 at Mission Hills Country Club to finish at 12-under 276. She began the day tied for second and played the front nine in 2 under par. However, with three holes to go, it appeared Ko wouldn’t be able to catch Ariya Juntaugarn, who had a two-stroke edge over Ko.
Unfortunately for Jutanugarn, she bogeyed the 16th and 17th holes. Meanwhile, Ko first got up-and-down in a must-make situation for par at the 17th, then played a perfect wedge for her third shot into the par-5 finishing hole, ending up within 2 feet for a lead-taking birdie.
On the tee, Jutanugarn ended her bid when she snap-hooked her tee shot into the water hazard.
Lexi Thompson, seeking her second ANA Inspiration title in the last three years, entered Sunday with a one-stroke edge over Ko, Chun and Jutanugarn. She stumbled early with bogeys in two of first three holes and fell to 3 over the round. However, Thompson eagled the final hole for the second time in as many days to pull into solo fifth place.
For Ko, this is her second win in as many weeks, taking the Kia Classic by three shots leading into this major. It also follows Ko’s first major win last September at the Evian Championship. However, that win in France came on a course Ko had contended on previously in her early career. This major win may be more special as it came on a course that, until this week, Ko hadn’t seen success.
“I’ve never really played well at this course before,” she said, “so just to know that, hey, I can still play well at a course that I haven’t really played well before I think gives me the confidence.”
With 12 LPGA wins, including two majors, before the age of 19, you’d figure Ko wouldn’t lack for confidence. If this win adds to it, it’s hard to imagine what she can’t accomplish.