RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — March madness spilled over into April here, when a battle royale displaced an orderly golf tournament, chaos reigned and the ANA Inspiration still isn’t over.
Four playoff holes on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course were not enough to crown a winner, so Inbee Park and Pernilla Lindberg will return at 8 a.m. (PDT) on Monday. A third playoff contestant, Jennifer Song, bowed out when she bogeyed the third playoff hole.
A rules official gave Park and Lindberg the option of playing one more hole or waiting until Monday morning.
“Pernilla said yes, and I said, OK, then we’ll play,” Park said. “I knew it was getting a little bit on the edge there, but, yeah, we both finished with a par, which is good in the dark, I think.
“I’m just happy that we got rid of that 18th hole. The 18th hole is not my favorite hole because of my driver height. It was just a little too low to carry the palm trees. If you hit a 3-wood you kind of run out of fairway on the right. It is not a great set-up for me.”
The playoff will resume on the 10th hole.
Yes, it was a wild day. Major championships, by the nature of pressure and skill, tend to have winnowed the number of contenders late on a Sunday afternoon to a few. But the ANA Inspiration was open to all comers. A final round that had six tied for the lead early had five tied for the lead late and several others with an outside chance.
It finally came down to a trio with 19 victories and seven majors among them—19 and seven for Park and none for Song and 54-hole leader Lindberg.
All three playoff contestants birdied the 18th hole in regulation—Song holing a five-foot birdie, Park a four-footer and Lindberg a three-footer.
Song’s birdie made her the leader in the clubhouse at 15-under-par 273 and eliminated Jessica Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn, who had finished at 14under.
The par-5 18th is a potential eagle hole for long hitters, which ruled out the playoff threesome from having a go at the green in two. It’s a relatively easy birdie hole, though not in that situation, with a major championship at stake. None of the three managed to birdie the 18th, four attempts for Park and Lindberg and three for Song.
Park and Lindberg elected to play the 18th one more time, largely under the cover of darkness. Park’s birdie putt from 35 feet on a green lit by floodlights brought in went six feet past. She made the comeback putt for par, while Lindberg narrowly missed her 10-foot birdie putt from the fringe.
Lindberg, who took a three-stroke lead into the final round, closed with a one-under 71. Park shot a five-under 67.