RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Jin Young Ko won the ANA Inspiration on Sunday at Mission Hills for her first major title and second victory in three weeks.
Ko closed with a 2-under 70 in hot and mostly calm conditions for a three-stroke victory over Mi Hyang Lee. She celebrated with the traditional winner’s leap into Poppie’s Pond.
”It’s a really great honor,” Ko said on the 18th green.
After bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 cut her lead to a stroke, Ko made a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th and closed with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.
Ko finished at 10-under 278. The 23-year-old South Korean won for the fourth time on the LPGA tour, completing a desert sweep after taking the Founders Cup in Phoenix. She leads the money list and has five top-three finishes in six events this year.
Ko gave caddie David Brooker his third victory in the event. The Englishman also leaped into Poppie’s Pond with Grace Park in 2004 and Lorena Ochoa in 2008.
Lee parred the final six holes in a 70.
”This is really good momentum for me,” said Lee, also from South Korea. ”I’m so happy with this week.”
A stroke ahead of playing competitor In-Kyung Kim entering the round, Ko had a three-stroke lead at the turn and faced little pressure until stumbling with the late bogeys. Her drive on the par-4 13th bounded down the fairway and jumped into the thick right rough, and her long approach ended up short of the green in the left rough. After missing a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th, she hit into the left greenside bunker on the par-4 15th and missed a 12-foot par try.
Lexi Thompson was third at 6 under after a 67.
”My caddie, Benji (Thompson), helped out tremendously,” Thompson said. ”I was getting down a little bit, but he just kept me right in there playing aggressively the whole day – making those birdies and just firing at every pin I could.”
Kim closed with a 74 to tie for fourth at 5 under with Carlota Ciganda. The 30-year-old South Korean lost a chance to win the event seven years after missing a 14-inch putt on the final hole of regulation and losing on the first hole of a playoff.
Ciganda finished with a 68.