Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit claimed her first major victory at the 2021 ANA Inspiration, calmly closing out with an bogey-free final round of 68 having held the lead since the opening round.

The 21-year-old rookie started the final day five shots clear of a chasing pack which included the world No.1 and four past ANA Inspiration champions. It was the 2016 champion, Lydia Ko, who came closest to thwarting Tavatanakit’s maiden LPGA victory as she surged up the leaderboard with a stunning final round of 62, finishing just two shots back in second place.

Ko fired seven birdies and an eagle on the first 11 holes of the Dinah Shore course to threaten Tavatanakit’s lead, but it still wasn’t enough as the Thai player held her nerve with a string of par saves over the closing holes to finish on 18 under par and become the first rookie to win the tournament since Julie Inkster in 1984.

Tavatanakit’s said: “I turned 21 six months ago and now I’m a major champion in my rookie year, which is just crazy. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. But I meditated twice before going out to play which helped me stay calm. I told myself to be patient, as I knew it was going to be hard out here, and I had got to be really strong mentally.”

Ko, whose final round tied the lowest tournament round record of Lorena Ochoa in 2006, said: “I was a little bit of a mess the first couple days. I made a lot of birdies, but I also made a lot of clumsy mistakes. I was just excited to be back in this kind of position and feel the adrenaline on Sunday. So even though I haven’t won, I am delighted to have finished on such a high and given myself a chance. Patty played amazing golf, and she was just a bit too far away to catch.”

England’s Charley Hull finished tied 14th on seven under alongside compatriot Mel Reid, who finished strongly with a 67, while Georgia Hall, whose hopes of victory faded with a third round 77, finished tied 36th after a closing 69.

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