Rancho Mirage, Calif. — Pernilla Lindberg made a 30-foot birdie putt on the eighth extra hole to win the ANA Inspiration on Monday for her first professional victory.
Lindberg finished off Inbee Park on the par-4 10th, the fourth playoff hole Monday at Mission Hills after they played until it was too dark to see — and then played some more — Sunday night.
“I just know I’m a grinder, and I just felt: ‘This is mine. I’m going to do this,’” Lindberg said. “I just knew I could, and I just kept fighting away. I couldn’t believe when that last putt went in.”
Park had a chance to force another, but her 20-footer stopped on the edge of the cup.
“The first thing I said when I holed that last putt was, ‘I know Inbee’s going to hole hers, too.’ So, I started thinking about the 17th hole again, but she didn’t. It was mine.”
The 31-year-old Swede won the major championship in her 250th start on the LPGA, Ladies European and Symetra tours, making the traditional victory leap into Poppie’s Pond with her parents and fiance-caddie Daniel Taylor.
“It’s so cool,” Lindberg said. “The only reason I’m playing golf is because of them. I’m so happy they’re here. I’ve probably given my dad I don’t know how many heart attacks over the last few days, but I’m just so happy they’re here and get to see this and we get to celebrate it together.”
On Sunday, Jennifer Song dropped out with a par on the third playoff hole, and Park and Lindberg decided to take one more trip down the par-5 18th in fading light. With portable lights and the scoreboard helping illuminate the green, Park holed a 6-footer for par and Lindberg made a short putt to match. They finished at 7:21 p.m., 15 minutes after sunset.
Play resumed at 8 a.m. on No. 10, with Lindbergh leaving a birdie putt from a little lower on the green than her winner an inch short. They made up-and-down pars on the par-3 17th, with Park holing a tricky 8-foot downhill putt and Lindberg staying alive from a foot closer.
Lindberg then reached the 18th in two — the first time one of them went for it in the six times they played the par 5 in the playoff and regulation — but was on the far left side and was only able to get her eagle putt within 7 feet. Park laid up and hit a wedge to 8 feet. They both missed.
“I didn’t make many mistakes, but I just couldn’t make the putts,” Park said. “The morning greens were a little bit slower than I anticipated. I hit a couple putts short. I had a couple of opportunities. I’m a little bit disappointed, but I’m really happy the way I played this week.”
Lindberg, Park and Song birdied the 18th in regulation. Song got 15 under first with a 5-foot putt, Park followed with a 4-footer in the next group and Lindberg matched her in the final group. Park and Song shot 5-under 67, and Lindberg had a 71.
Lindberg is the fourth player to lead wire-to-wire in the event and first since Pat Hurst in 1998, and the fifth to win the tournament for her first LPGA Tour victory. She’s the sixth Swedish female major champion, joining Liselotte Neumann, Helen Alfredsson, Jenny Lidback (born in Peru to Swedish parents), Annika Sorenstam and Anna Nordqvist — and all of them won a major for her first LPGA Tour title.
“I remember writing some goals probably right when I got to high school,” Lindberg said. “Writing about the dream scenario, and it would be to obviously win a major championship and leave a mark in history. But at the same time it felt like too big of a dream to come true, but it has.”
Park won in 2013 at Mission Hills and is a seven-time major champion. The 29-year-old Hall of Famer won the Founders Cup two weeks ago in Phoenix for her 19th tour title, a day after revealing she was 50-50 about retiring before returning from a long break. She returned to play a month ago in Singapore after not playing since the Women’s British Open in August.
“The putt Pernilla made on the last was a champion’s putt,” Park said. “I’m really happy for her. This one was not an easy major win for her, as well. I mean, eight-hole playoff, I’ve never done something like that before, either.”
Jessica Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn finished a stroke out of the playoff.