Paphangkorn “Pro Miao” Tavatanakit held off a late surge by world #1 Lydia Ko to win the LPGA’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif., USA.
Paphangkorn, who led for all four days April 1 – 4, said she was unaware New Zealand’s Ko was producing a record outing in the final round on Sunday.
“I didn’t look at the leaderboard at all today,” Paphangkorn said. “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.”
The Thai chipped in for eagle on the par-5 second, carded two birdies and produced par save after par save in her bogey-free round for a total 18 under par 270.
Ko, who started the day tied for seventh at six under par, eight strokes behind Paphangkorn, 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.
Five strokes ahead entering the day and six in front after the eagle, Paphangkorn shot a 4-under 68 in 100-degree heat to beat Ko by two strokes in the first major championship of the year.
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.
Paphangkorn also won low amateur at the tournament in 2019.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said at the news conference. “Every time I play here I remember exactly I was on this green receiving my low amateur award and I saw they were jumping and I took a Snapchat and the caption was, ‘One day.’ It’s been crazy.”
“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.”
She can now go a bit crazier with the 465,000 US dollars or about 14.5 million baht prize money.