Patty Tavatanakit holds off Lydia Ko’s surge to win ANA Inspiration title

Patty Tavatanakit survived Lydia Ko’s final-round charge Sunday to win the ANA Inspiration for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Five strokes ahead entering the day and six in front after a chip-in eagle on the par-five second, Tavatanakit shot a four-under 68 in 100F heat to beat Ko by two strokes in the first major championship of the year.

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

Winless since April 2018, the 23-year-old Ko played the first 11 holes in nine-under and added a birdie on the par-four 15th. On the par-five 18th, she drove into rough near the water that lines the left side, laid up and hit a wedge 30 feet long and right. Her birdie try missed to the left, stopping inches away.

Tavatanakit had a series of late par saves to keep her two-stroke lead.

The 21-year-old Thai player finished the wire-to-wire victory with a short par putt on 18. A day after matching the tournament 54-hole record of 14 under set by Pernilla Lindberg in her 2018 victory, Tavatanakit finished a stroke off Dottie Pepper’s 72-hole mark of 19 under set in 1999.

Ranked 103rd in the world, the former UCLA star became the sixth straight international winner. She’s the first rookie to win the event since Juli Inkster in 1984 and the fourth straight first-time major winner. Tavatanakit won seven times in two seasons at UCLA and had three Symetra Tour victories in 2019.

Ko has 15 LPGA Tour victories, winning at Mission Hills in 2016 for her second major victory.

Nelly Korda (66), Sei Young Kim (66) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (66) and Shanshan Feng (69) tied for third at 11 under.