It took her 193 starts on the LPGA and then eight playoff holes, but Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg broke through on Monday morning at the ANA Inspiration to claim her first LPGA victory. She dropped a brilliant 30-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole of the morning to stamp her long awaited signature LPGA moment.
“I just know I’m a grinder and I just felt this was mine and I’m going to do this," said Lindberg immediately after the win. "I couldn’t believe that last one went in and Inbee didn’t hole hers and it’s mine.
For the first time in the 47-year history of the ANA Inspiration – and the LPGA in the desert – two players returned to Mission Hills Country Club to decide a winner on Monday.
72 holes didn’t suffice. Four playoff holes past Sunday sunset didn’t suffice either.
Inbee Park and Pernilla Lindberg returned to the Dinah Shore course on Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. and resumed the playoff on hole ten, their fifth playoff hole dating to Sunday night when play was called after the fourth due to darkness.
On the first playoff hole of the morning, Lindberg came a few rotations short of rolling in a 35-foot putt while Park came up short on her 25-footer. Both made par.
Then, they moved to the par-3 17th hole, their sixth playoff hole. Both players went left with their tee shots. Park landed in the bunker while Lindberg was stuck in the deep rough just short of the bunker. Park went long with her bunker shot, but drained a 15-footer coming back. Lindberg responded with a 10-footer to extend the playoff.
Strategy changed as the playoff shifted to the par-5 18th. Park continued to lay up while Lindberg went with a wood and got on the green in two, albeit a long ways from the pin. Park hit her wedge to 10-feet, but missed her birdie attempt and made par.
Lindberg lagged her eagle putt from 70-feet to about 7-feet and had a great chance to win, but missed right.
The playoff moved back to the tenth hole. Lindberg was first to putt and steam-rolled a 30-foot birdie into the back of the cup. Park was unable to answer with her 15-footer.
“I dreamt of this moment ever since I was a kid,” said Lindberg. “I remember writing goals when I was high school to win a major and I thought it was too good of a dream to come true, but it has.”
Lindberg is the fifth player to make the ANA Inspiration her first LPGA Tour victory, joining Helen Alfredsson (1993), Nanci Bowen (1995), Morgan Pressel (2007) and Stacy Lewis (2011). She joins Alfredsson and Annika Sorenstam as the only Swedish players to win the ANA Inspiration.
The 31-year-old didn't win on the Epson Tour or the Ladies European Tour. Her first win ever was capped off with the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond accompanied by her caddy, Daniel Taylor, and her mom and dad, Gunilla and Jan.