RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Sunday night, darkness won out at Mission Hills Country Club, where Inbee Park and Pernilla Lindberg were forced to call it quits for the night in their battle to determine the winner of the ANA Inspiration. Their playoff resumes Monday at the par 4, 10th hole at 8:00 a.m. local time.
“I have nothing to lose tomorrow,” Lindberg said Sunday evening. “I've been out there for a long time today, so I'll be ready to put my head on the pillow.”
As darkness fell at 7:06 p.m. local time, rules official Donna Mummert asked the pair whether or not they wanted to continue. They took a quick look at each other and immediately agreed. They were able to squeeze in one more trip to the par 5, 18th. When the playoff resumes Monday, the pair will begin with a change in venue at the par 4, 10th hole. They'll continue at the par 3, 17th and par 5, 18th hole, as needed.
“Finally we're playing a different hole tomorrow, so I'm excited about that,” Park said Sunday evening. “Hopefully I can warm up really quickly tomorrow morning. I'm not used to a morning tee time after playing late for quite a few days, so it's an early start for me.”
Park and Lindberg, along with Jennifer Song, who was eliminated on the third playoff hole with a par, played the par 5, 18th hole four times after finishing tied in regulation at 15-under par.
Song earned her second consecutive top-10 in a major championship this week after also finishing seventh at the 2017 Evian Championship.
“I'm kind of disappointed that I wasn't able to make those putts in the playoffs, but I learned a lot,” Song said after her round. “I'm very grateful, and I'm just loving this moment right now.”
Ariya Jutanugarn and Jessica Korda finished one-stroke outside the playoff at 14-under par. Ariya’s sister, Moriya finished one behind her at 13-under par, along with Charley Hull. Ayako Uehara finished alone at 12-under par, with Caroline Masson, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Sung Hyun Park and Amy Olson rounding out the top-10.
There is a lot more than the trophy on the line at the ANA Inspiration. Here is what the champion receives for winning the first major of the year:
Five-year exemption onto the LPGA Tour via Category 3 status on the LPGA Priority List (Major Winner)
Lifetime exemption into the ANA Inspiration
Five-year exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open
Five-year exemption into the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Five-year exemption into the Ricoh Women’s British Open
Five-year exemption into The Evian Championship
The winner also receives the following points with her victory on Sunday:
Two points toward entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame
650 points toward the 2018 Race to the CME Globe
60 points toward the 2018 Rolex Player of the Year Award
60 points toward the 2018 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award
During Sunday’s final round, two pairs of sisters sat in the top-10 on the leaderboard. Both Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn along with Jessica and Nelly Korda put themselves in the hunt on Sunday. Ariya and Jessica took the clubhouse lead at 14-under par and waited for a half hour to find out if they would go to a playoff. Ariya came from 7-strokes back with a Sunday 65, including two birdies on her final three holes. Jessica, had an incredible final round, 6-under par, 66 that included two hole-outs, one for eagle and another for birdie.
“I'm proud of myself for giving myself a chance. That was my game plan today was trying to go low and give myself the opportunity to win, and that's exactly what I did,” Jessica said. “Every time I made a mistake, I tried to bounce back as fast as I could.”
Despite the pressure of the situation, of waiting find out whether they’d battle for a major title, both took the moment in stride. Jessica sat in a folding chair next to the practice putting green with her sister, Nelly. Ariya played with a toddler who was running around the same green. Once Jennifer Song rolled in her putt for birdie on the 72nd hole, the pair hugged and Ariya went over to watch her sister, Moriya, who finished two-strokes outside the playoff.
“It's awesome for me because I played good,” Ariya said after her round, “and I have a chance to watch her play, and I'm rooting for her to make some birdies and make some putts. It's great.”
Lexi Loves The Fans
In her return to Mission Hills Country Club for the first time since her disappointing loss at last year’s ANA Inspiration, Lexi Thompson finished at 7-under par. After Thursday’s opening round, 68, Thompson wasn’t a factor for the remainder of the week as she followed with rounds of 72-70-71. The experience of returning to the ANA Inspiration for the first time since her disappointing loss in 2017 was yet another learning experience for the top-ranked American.
“I've learned a lot about myself,” Thompson said after her round. “Last year was definitely a learning curve. I learned overall how strong I was.”
Thompson relied on the fans, especially the young girls who gave her high fives throughout her round, for helping her get through a challenging week.
“It truly is amazing. Just the fans every year, such great crowds,” said Thompson. ”Just gave me more motivation.”