RANCHO MIRAGE, California – When 25-year-old Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1965, he finished nine strokes from the field and set a new 72-hole record. Then the tournament’s co-founder Bobby Jones marveled at how the Golden Bear dominated Augusta National Golf Club.
The same goes for Patty Tavatanakit’s performance this week at Mission Hills Golf Club.
-year-old Thai has been leading ANA Inspiration since day 1 and uses her distance to overwhelm the golf course. The LPGA Tour rookie finished ninth on the tour in driving distance and this week has an average of 326 meters from the tee. Throughout Saturday’s round, Judy Rankin of Golf Channel marveled at the spots where Tavatanakit placed the golf ball. Tavatanakit plays the course in a way that Rankin, the winner of the 1976 ANA Inspiration, has never seen before.
« From that point of view, it’s a completely different course, » said Tavatanakit, responding to Rankin’s astonishment. “I can reach some pins a little more easily with shorter clubs. The par 4 is 9-irons and then 7-irons all day just like I had it. “
Rankin wasn’t the only one who was still in awe. Shanshan Feng, Tavatanakit’s gambling competitor on Saturday, was surprised to see how the game has developed since she last toured in 2019. Feng’s eyes widened as she saw Tavatanakit not only drive her tees past Fengs, but also the chips and putts needed to score.
« I was actually more impressed with how accurate she was, » said Feng about the rookie. « Before, when you were a long hitter you expected them to hit fewer fairways than we did, but now they actually hit it long and they are accurate and they hit greens and they can get it up and down and all is well. » “
Highlights: Tavatanakit leads at ANA Inspiration
Tavatanakit took a one-shot lead into the weekend and expanded her lead to up to six on the day of the move. She suffered two bogies over the final stretch to card a 5-under-par 67. She leads with five strokes and 18 holes.
This adds to Tavatanakit’s challenge to win his first major title. Inbee Park, a seven-time main champion who won by five strokes last week, says the bigger Tavatanakit’s lead, the more pressure she’ll feel.
« If you lead with one or two, anything can happen in golf » said Park. “But if you lead at five or six and you can’t make it tomorrow, you just don’t feel that good. I think that’s the pressure she’ll have to deal with tomorrow. “
However, it is not the first time that Tavatankit has built a big lead in a field. She won three times on the Symetra Tour in 2019. In two consecutive weeks she won with a total of 10 strokes.
This week is her fourth appearance at ANA Inspiration. In 2020, in her first stint as a rookie on the LPGA Tour (2020 rookies are also rookies this year), she finished T-64. Twice before, she competed as an amateur, which made her more comfortable and therefore more aggressive from the tee. Since turning pro, she has been amazed at the distance she has covered in Mission Hills. On Saturday, she struck a rag wedge into the 385-yard par-4 hole.
Tavatanakit is trying to keep the energy levels up for the finals
« With the length that I have, some of the lines you had to take a little different, and when I see it enough, I’ve hit the furthest I’ve ever met here, » Tavatanakit said about her return to Mission Hills.
For the past three days, Tavatanakit has looked incredibly even, calm, and confident. She allowed herself a few moments of excitement on Saturday as she extended her lead at the top of the rankings. This was undoubtedly at the direction of her mental coaches Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott from Vision54, who were there with her this week.
« There’s a lot of self-esteem today, » said Tavatanakit. “I was excited and I know it. I recognized that. I’ve done everything to keep it a little quieter because I know I’m excited. Just bring that down to the normal level. Just keep playing. I think I did really well today. “
Tavatanakit has the opportunity to make history on Sunday. With 18 holes, Tavatankit leads with five at 14 under par. In 1999, Dottie Pepper set the 72-hole record of 269 at 19 under par. In 2000 Karrie Webb won 10 strokes at 14 under par. She also has the chance to join Ariya Jutanugarn as the only player from Thailand, male or female, to win a major.
Just like Nicklaus’ win in In 1965, a win by Tavatanakit would herald a new era in women’s game. She represents the all-round athlete; A player who puts both her physical and mental fitness in the foreground has a surgical short game and a mystifying long game. Patty Tavatanakit is the whole package.
FROM Associated Press
FROM Grill Room Team
FROM Mercer Baggs
Patty Tavatanakit opened a five-bar lead in the finals on another hot and windy afternoon at ANA Inspiration.
Patty Tavatanakit shot 3:69 on Friday for a one-shot at ANA Inspiration -Go ahead of the weekend.
Patty Tavatanakit shot 66 and led a number of notable champions in the LPGA’s first major of the year, ANA Inspiration.
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