By: Kayla Mortellaro
The flare for dramatics was in full force Sunday afternoon at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Cali., for the LPGA tour’s first major of the year.
South Korea’s Sei Young Kim started Sunday’s final round with a three shot lead over American and 2011 champion, Stacy Lewis. The afternoon drama certainly heated up as the players entered the back nine. Kim made a few mistakes and Lewis remained steady until bogies on the 13th and 15th holes cut her lead down to two strokes.
Ahead of the lead group was 2009 champion Brittany Lincicome who stood on the 18th tee at seven under par for the week. Lincicome needed an eagle, just as she had done in 2009. In eerily similar fashion, Lincicome drove her ball straight and long on the par 5 18th. She had 185 yards left to reach the green in two and chose to hit a five iron that released past the hole, caught a slope and funneled backward to about seven feet. Lincicome drained her eagle putt to get her to nine under par (72-68-70-69 = 279).
Lewis, in the meantime was still on the course and gave herself an opportunity to win the event outright with a 15 foot birdie putt on 18. The putt just slid past the hole resulting in Lewis (72-69-68-70 = 279) and Lincicome being tied at nine under par after 72 holes of regulation.
The par 72 Mission Hills Country Club, Dinah Shore Tournament course played 6,769 yards for the week. The LPGA’s first major has a long-standing tradition that the winner, caddy and family members jump in to Poppie’s Pond as a victory celebration.
The two competitors and friends, Lincicome and Lewis have both tasted victory and done the famous jump before but needed three extra holes to determine who would be hoisting the trophy in 2015.
Both players chose to lay-up every time they played the 18th in sudden death, giving themselves wedge shots and putts at birdie. Each player scored a par five both times. The third time around, Lewis laid up to a similar spot as the two prior times but her ball found itself in a sand-filled old divot. The bad-break had an effect as her approach shot came up short of the green.
Lewis’ chip shot tumbled and finished well short of the hole followed by a missed putt for par. Lincicome secured the victory with two putts for a par on the third playoff hole. Lincicome’s victory marked just the second American golfer on the LPGA to capture a title in the 2015 season.
Former champion in 2007, American, Morgan Pressel finished third (67-72-71-70 = 280). Spain’s Carlota Ciganda finished for fourth with Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and the 54-hole leader Kim.
Lincicome, 29, now has two major championships along with six total career wins in 10 years on tour.
For a complete results list go to: http://www.lpga.com/tournaments/ana-inspiration/results