RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Mirim Lee chipped in three times Sunday, the last one for eagle on the final hole that got her into a three-way playoff at the ANA Inspiration that she won on the first extra hole with a birdie.
It was another wild finish in the LPGA major that moved from the first weekend of April to the 100-degree heat of September, and no one was more surprised than the 29-year-old Lee.
She was never in the lead at any point until she calmly holed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 18th to beat Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson, who each had the lead on the back nine.
Lee pitched in from long range for par on the 16th, dropped a shot on the next hole and appeared to be out of it until her chip from behind the 18th green rammed against the pin and dropped for eagle and a 5-under 67.
Korda, the 22-year-old American going for her first major, had a two-shot lead with four holes to play and couldn’t hold it. With a one-shot lead going to the par-5 18th, Korda missed the fairway, had to lay up and missed the green to the right, having to scramble for par and a 69 just to match Lee at 15-under 273
Henderson lost the lead with a double bogey on the 13th hole that nearly cost her. But she birdied the 16th and was saved by the wall, a blue-covered structure behind the 18th that kept her second shot on the 18th from running through the green and into the water behind the island green. She got up-and-down for birdie and a 69.
On the first extra hole, Korda again missed the fairway and had to lay up, and her wedge was 25 feet short for a birdie putt that never had a chance. Henderson’s second shot came up just short, and she used putter for her eagle attempt that rolled out some 7 feet pasts. Her birdie putt missed on the left side.
Lee hit 5-wood just over the back of the putting surface, chipped to 5 feet and made the winner. Even with world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 staying home because of travel concerns with the coronavirus, Lee made it 10 consecutive years with a South Korea winning a major.
Stewart Cink won the season-opening Safeway Open at 47 years old for his seventh PGA Tour victory and first since the 2009 British Open.
Cink closed with a 7-under 65 at Silverado Resort — rebounding from a bogey on the 17th with a birdie on the 18th — for a two-stroke victory over Harry Higgs.
Cink is the oldest PGA Tour winner since Phil Mickelson at 48 at Pebble Beach in February 2019. Cink’s last victory came at the expense of then-59-year-old Tom Watson at Turnberry, with Cink winning a four-hole playoff.
Cink did it the old fashioned way Sunday, with a short game that repeatedly put him in great shape on the greens. He one-putted 10 times, scrambled for pars after driving into the sand twice and had eight birdies to finish at 21-under 267.
Higgs shot a 68.
Doc Redman closed with a 62 — matching the lowest round of the tournament — to tie with Brian Stuard (70), Chez Reavie (66) and Kevin Streelman (67) at 18 under.