Patty Tavatanakit shot a bogey-free 68 in the final round of the ANA Inspiration to cap off a wire-to-wire victory. Tavatanakit is just the fourth player to win the ANA Inspiration while holding the outright lead after all four rounds. The other three players to do it – Juli Inkster (1989), Amy Alcott (1991) and Karrie Webb (2000) – have combined to win 19 major championships.
It was the first career LPGA victory for Tavatanakit, let alone her first win in a major. She is the only player in LPGA history to get her first win in wire-to-wire fashion at the ANA Inspiration. Tavatanakit put on an absolute ball-striking display all week, averaging more than 320 yards off the tee and hitting 85 percent of her greens in regulation.
The win wasn’t without drama, though – Lydia Ko was on fire, playing the first 11 holes of her final round in 9-under. She wound up carding a 62, the lowest final round score in LPGA major championship history. She also tied the lowest ever round at the ANA Inspiration, and her front nine score of 29 was the lowest over nine holes in tournament history. Ko started the day eight back – a win would have given her the largest final round comeback to win in ANA Inspiration history.
Jordan Spieth ended a victory drought of more than 1,300 days, winning the Valero Texas Open by two strokes over Charley Hoffman. Spieth gained 12.89 strokes on the field from tee to green for the week, his most in any of his now dozen PGA Tour wins. Jordan’s wedge play was exemplary: from 50-125 yards away, he had the best average proximity to the hole of anyone in the field.
Despite having not won since the 2017 Open Championship, Spiethis still in lofty company among the most prolific PGA Tour winners at a young age in recent history. Over the last forty years, Spieth is one of five players to win twelve or more times before age 28, joining Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.
Spieth will be among the favorites now entering next week’s Masters Tournament, based both on recent form and excellent course history. Just how good is Spieth at Augusta National? Of the players in Masters history with 20 or more rounds played, Spieth has the lowest scoring average all-time (70.46) and is second in strokes gained total per round, trailing only Ben Hogan.
Spieth will try to become the fifth player to win the PGA Tour event immediately preceding the Masters, then go on to win at Augusta National. The players to do it are Ralph Guldahl (1939), Art Wall (1959), Sandy Lyle (1988) and Phil Mickelson (2006). The last player to win an event the week before a win in any major was in 2014, when McIlroy won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, then won the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
Saturday, Tsubasa Katijani of Japan won the second ever Augusta National Women’s Amateur, clinching victory in a sudden death playoff over Emilia Migliaccio of the United States. The final round, held at Augusta National Golf Club, was a nervous race to the finish – at one point as many as nine players were at or within one stroke of the lead.
Will scoring be more difficult at Augusta National this year than it was in 2019 and 2020? The last two years have yielded the two lowest scoring averages in Masters Tournament history – 71.87 in 2019 and 71.75 last November. From 1934 through 2018, the field was collectively under par only one time – in 1992. It’s now happened in back-to-back Masters.
Approach play is paramount at Augusta National: in the last five Masters played in April, the field leader in strokes gained approach has an average finish of 1.8. Of the players with ten or more rounds at the Masters since 2015, there is one player who has averaged a full stroke or more on the field with his approach play: Spieth.