Brooke Henderson couldn’t quite cross the finish line this week at the ANA Inspiration but one thing is for sure: her tenth win is not far off!
Brooke finished T2 at the second major of the LPGA Tour season Sunday after losing in a playoff to Mirim Lee. Brooke and Nelly Korda – looking for her first major championship title – held the 54-hole lead. Korda was also in the playoff but made a par, along with Brooke, to Lee’s birdie.
All day at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California it seemed to be a match-play scenario between Korda and Brooke, as they were going back-and-forth with the lead.
Korda was 3-under through nine holes while Brooke was just 2-under. However, Korda made two bogeys in her first three holes of the back nine to let Brooke back into the tournament.
Even when Brooke appeared to let up – she made an unfortunate double bogey on the par-4 13th – she managed to right the ship late in the day, making birdies on No’s 16 and 18.
“I definitely played really well this week, which is definitely a really nice feeling and definitely gives me confidence moving forward,” said Brooke.
It was Mirim Lee who stole the show, however, and eventually the tournament.
Lee chipped in three times Sunday including for eagle on the 72nd hole to post 15-under and wait for both Korda and Brooke to play the par-5 18th.
“Mirim played great today and so did Nelly. It was fun. You’re playing against the best in the world out there, and it’s tough to lose that way,” said Brooke.
Lee won twice on the LPGA Tour in 2014, but her ANA Inspiration victory was her first on Tour since 2017. It’s also her first major triumph.
“I can’t believe it,” Lee said after the victory was confirmed. “I had no emotions. I just told myself, ‘let’s just finish this quickly.’”
Korda, who is ranked third in the world and got as high as No. 2, will have to wait another month or so until she has a chance for that first major title. Her runner-up result is her best career finish at a major and it seems like a big-time victory is coming sooner rather than later.
Tradition. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/x9XjsO4asu
— ANA Inspiration (@ANAinspiration) September 13, 2020
She had a few opportunities to put the nail in the coffin, with wedge in her hand late. She couldn’t capitalize.
“I felt good, but you still had so much golf to be played. It’s not over until you make that last putt on 18, and anything can happen, and unfortunately it went the other way, but I’ll take all the experience I can get,” said Korda.
“I’m taking positives from this week. My game is trending upward, and it’s good.”
For Brooke, it’s her best result on the LPGA Tour since her ninth career victory last summer.
Since the return to action a couple of weeks ago Brooke has made steady improvements. She missed the cut at the RICOH Women’s Open, finished T49 the next week in Arkansas. She started the season with a T4 and T15 – both in Florida – before the COVID-19 break began.
“I felt like I missed a lot of putts, especially those final rounds where I feel like maybe it could have been a different story, but Mirim and Nelly played great,” said Brooke. “I really fought my way around so I’m happy.”
Lexi Thompson finished fourth at 13-under while Stacy Lewis rounded out the top-5 at 12-under.
Fellow Canadian Alena Sharp finished T40 after a 3-under-par 69 Sunday – her best round of the week.
The LPGA Tour heads to Portland next week, the site of Brooke’s first-career LPGA Tour title, for the Portland Classic. The next major on the schedule, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (which Brooke won in 2016) is set for Oct. 8-11 from Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia.