LOS ANGELES • Nothing in unheralded golfer Pernilla Lindberg's resume suggested that she would become the wire-to-wire ANA Inspiration champion on Monday.
In 249 previous professional appearances, she had never tasted victory. The Swede registered only a handful of top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour after more than 180 tournaments. Her previous best finish at a Major was a share of fifth at the 2015 US Women's Open. But the 31-year-old had a feeling she would realise her childhood dream.
"I just know I'm a grinder. Towards the end yesterday, I felt 'This is mine, I'm going to do this'," said the world No. 95 after winning on the eighth hole of a play-off duel with South Korean star Park In Bee.
"I just knew I could so I just kept fighting away."
She drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-four 10th to set up her victory at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
Her birdie left Park needing to make an awkward 10-footer but the 2013 champion missed.
"The putt Pernilla made on the last (hole) was a champion's putt," the seven-time Major champion said. "You really can't beat that."
The play-off restarted at just past 8am local time on Monday after Lindberg and Park finished in near-darkness on Sunday, unable to land a decisive blow through four extra holes. By then, American Jennifer Song had exited the three-way fight after the trio finished 72 holes at 15-under 273.
Lindberg, however, had seen the light long before play resumed.
"I remember writing some goals when I got to high school, the dream scenario and it would be to win a Major championship and leave a mark in history," said Lindberg, who celebrated by plunging into Poppie's Pond with her parents and Daniel Taylor, her caddie and fiance. "That felt like too big of a dream to even come true, but it has."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS