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Heat, course, wind don’t slow down Patty Tavatanakit at ANA Inspiration

Heat, course, wind don’t slow down Patty Tavatanakit at ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Officials at Mission Hills Country Club thought the Dinah Shore Tournament Course might play so tough for the ANA Inspiration this week that a winning score in single digits under par for 72 holes would be a reasonable expectation.

Patty Tavatanakit needed just 31 holes to surpass that mark.

Tavatanakit, the 21-year-old Thai golfer who played her college golf at UCLA, defied the course conditions, strengthening winds in the afternoon and temperatures in the mid-90s that caused her to feel tired in the middle of the round to maintain the lead in the LPGA’s first major championship of the year Friday.

She shot a 3-under 69 while other golfers were fighting to stay at or near even par on the day, putting Tavatanakit at 9-under 135, one shot ahead of Sanshan Feng.

ANA InspirationLeaderboard | Photos

The key, Tavatanakit said, was to not think about the magnitude of the event.

“I didn’t want to take it like, oh, I’m leading a major championship,” she said. “I just want to look at it like it’s another round, it’s another tournament. Even though it is a big tournament, I don’t want to put emphasis on it like it’s a major.”

Feng, playing in the afternoon, also shot 69 despite three bogeys in her round. Despite playing on what is considered a long hitter’s paradise, where the LPGA’s biggest hitters take advantage of the par-5s, Moriya Jutanugarn managed a 69 in the morning wave of tee times to get to 7-under, alone in third.

Jutanugarn, ranked 131st on the LPGA average driving distance stats at a fraction under 240 yards, fired a 3-under 69 on Friday to move to 7-under for the tournament. She took sole possession of the lead at the first major championship of the year as the morning wave of tee times finished their round. Jutanugarn had four birdies in the round, but just one on a par-5, that being the second hole on the Shore Course.

“It’s just about patient out there,” Jutanugarn said. “I mean, I’m not a long hitter so I just have to take what I can and just trying to play smart and put myself into, you know, like places I can have a good chance.”


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