Alex Perry wraps up the weekend's tour action, starting with the 2020 ANA Inspiration which will be remembered for the part played by the man-made structure surrounding the 18th green
Women’s golf has another maiden major champion after Mirim Lee edged a three-way play-off with Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson to win the ANA Inspiration.
Lee chipped in a remarkable three times in the final round, including for eagle at 18 to take the clubhouse lead at 15-under which was then matched by Korda and Henderson, before a birdie at 18, the first extra hole, was enough to become the 14th first-time major champion in the last 20 competed.
But it was all a bit bizarre at Mission Hills. Officials had decided to erect a man-made structure between the 18th green and the lake on the Dinah Shore course. Their reasoning? To recreate the grandstand that would normally be there and get it playing like an ANA from any other year. The result? Players taking on the green knowing if they overrun they’re guaranteed a free drop.
Lee’s caddie Matt Glczis told Golf.com’s Alan Shipnuck: “Our play is to hit it into the middle of the green, let it run into the blue thing and get a free drop.”
“Without that being there we probably have to lay up because none of your long clubs are going to hold the green – it’s too firm.”
And that’s exactly what she did at the 72nd hole, crashing her approach into the tarpaulin structure before the eagle chip that put her in the play-off.
Henderson then did exactly the same thing – though the Canadian’s ball slipped under and a lengthy hunt ensued. She eventually got up and down and join Lee in the play-off.
All the while, Korda, who had played the hole sensibly by laying up, had to wait almost 10 minutes to play her 30-foot birdie putt that would have won the tournament in regulation holes.
Still, it was the same for all players and Korda had the option to use the temporary backstop and in the end it cost her a first major which will surely come sooner rather than later.
Like Korda, we’re all left wondering what might have been if it wasn’t for the Great Wall of Dinah. But what a shame it had to take away from such a fascinating climax at the ANA.
Still, one thing Covid couldn’t take from us and that’s the traditional leap into Poppie’s Pond…
- Related: What’s in Lee’s winning bag?
Look who’s back in the winners’ circle
Eleven years ago Stewart Cink edged a then 59-year-old Tom Watson in a play-off in the Open at Turnberry. How could you forget?
Hard to believe that until last week that was his most recent victory.
But now the American, with his son on his bag and wife Lisa by his side on every hole at the Safeway Open, has his seventh PGA Tour title – 23 years after his first – thanks to a two-shot win over Harry Higgs at the 2021 season opener.
Fantastic to see Cink winning a tournament where people outside his immediate family were cheering him on.
Coetzee delighted by away win
South African George Coetzee wanted to win on European soil to prove he could win without home comforts – and now he’s done it thanks to a two-shot victory at the Portugal Masters.
“[Winning in Europe] was the next step for me,” said the now five-time European Tour champion, who has three wins in his homeland and one in Mauritius. “I have always had a list of things I wanted to achieve in my career as a golfer and originally I never thought I would get as far as winning on the European Tour, so ticking that box a while back was really nice. Then I started to realise that I was a bit comfortable playing back home and I needed to go to the next step and win away from home.”
Laurie Canter finished second on 14-under, two behind Coetzee, while Tommy Fleetwood’s round-of-the-day 64 earned him to a tie for 3rd.
- Related: What’s in Coetzee’s bag?
Boulden finally over the line
A lovely story from the Ladies European Tour where Amy Boulden carded an 8-under 64 to win the Swiss Ladies Open.
Boulden won by three over Australian Stephanie Kyriacou for her maiden LET title.
The relief was clear for the 27-year-old, who was the LET Rookie of the Year in 2014 following a stellar amateur career before dropping to the second-tier Symetra Tour after after struggling in 2018, in her post-round interview.
In other news, imagine waiting six long years to win your first title and they present you with a cow trophy…
Jimenez wins – in front of fans
Weeks after becoming the European Tour’s record holder for appearances, Miguel Angel Jimenez is back on the PGA Tour Champions and back in the winners’ circle.
Jimenez finished on 14-under at the Sanford Invititional to win by a single shot, but not only that, it was the first major golf tournament to admit fans.
Even from this short clip, it’s really strange seeing fans back in the grandstands…