Lee birdies first playoff hole to capture ANA Inspiration title

South Korea’s Mirim Lee took a fairly tentative leap alongside her caddy into “Poppie’s Pond” on Sunday after winning her first major LPGA championship at the ANA Inspiration at Rancho Mirage, Calif.

But the 29-year-old looked completely confident when she drained her birdie putt on 18 to beat out Canadian Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda on the first hole of a sudden death playoff to capture the title.

“Honestly, I had no emotions,” said Lee through an interpreter. “I just told myself, ‘Let’s finish this quickly.'”

Not only did she end the playoff expediently, but Lee earned her way into extra time in spectacular fashion — chipping in from off the green at 18 for an eagle and carding a 5-under par 67 at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club to finish at 15 under for the tournament.

Lee, previously a three-time LPGA winner currently ranked No. 94 in the Rolex Rankings, had missed the cut in her two previous starts this season, but steadily chased down third-round leaders Henderson and Korda, who started the day tied at 12 under. The win marked Lee’s first LPGA victory since the 2017 Kia Classic.

Henderson, currently ranked No. 9, kept herself out front for most of the round posting three birdies through the first 11 holes before she faltered with a double bogey at 13. The nine-time winner rebounded with birdies at 16 and 18 to shoot 69 and move into the tie at 15 under.

For Korda, Sunday was roller-coaster ride that included three birdies over her first six holes followed by three bogeys and three more birdies over a stretch of seven holes. She parred the last four holes to shoot 69 and earn a spot in the playoff.

Rounding out the top five were Americans Lexi Thompson, winner of the 2014 title, who shot 69 and finished at 13 under, and Stacy Lewis, who fired a bogey-free 68 to finish 12 under.

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