Anna Nordqvist wraps up two-shot win in Phoenix

By Mike Tulumello, The Sports Xchange  |  March 20, 2017 at 7:23 AM
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PHOENIX -- In a tournament where birdies ruled and bogeys were almost non-existent, Anna Nordqvist got more than enough of the former.

Nordqvist, rolling in 26 birdies for the week, held off a host of low-shooting rivals to win the LPGA's Bank of Hope Founders Cup tournament Sunday at JW Marriot Desert Ridge.

The Swede shot 4-under-par 68 to finish at 25-under 263 for the week, two shots better than Stacy Lewis, Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea's In Gee Chun.

Nordqvist's score to par -- she also had an eagle and three bogeys -- came within two shots of the LPGA record of 27-under set in 2001 by Annika Sorenstam and matched last year by Sei Young Kim. All three rounds took place in Phoenix.

The win was the seventh on the LPGA Tour for Nordqvist, who played in college at nearby Arizona State.

She had to set aside the buzz she created by shooting 61 on Saturday and focus on the final round.

At the same time, Nordqvist knew that with so many low scores -- the cut line of 5-under was the lowest in LPGA history -- she would have to shoot at least "a couple under par."

"You have to make birdies," Nordqvist said. "With so many good players, I knew someone would post a good number."

Nordqvist stuck to her game plan and didn't focus on the leaderboard.

"I kept my head down," Nordqvist said, although she acknowledged taking peeks at Nos. 15 and 17.

She almost didn't give herself the opportunity to win the tournament.

At the last minute, she called off plans to play in Australia to return to the place where she moved from Sweden in 2006 to play in college. She stayed with friends and "soaked up the atmosphere in this place that means so much to me."

And after winning, Nordqvist said, "Maybe it was meant to be.

"This one in particular is very special for me. This is where I got the opportunity to play golf. I have a lot of fans, supporters and friends out here. I wouldn't be here without them. It's been such an incredible journey."

South Korea's So Yeon Ryu chased Nordqvist through much of the day. She rolled in a 25-foot birdie at No. 9 and, minutes later, Nordqvist missed a 6-foot birdie on the same green.

But Ryu missed a 6-footer at No. 13 that could have pulled her into a tie. Then Nordqvist rolled in an 18-foot birdie at the same hole that dropped her to 25 under and gave her a two-stroke lead.

That, as it turned out, was enough. Ryu faded with three bogeys and nobody else got closer than two shots.

Nordqvist's 25-foot birdie putt at 17 made for a ceremonial walk down the 18th fairway that even a bogey couldn't spoil.

World No. 1 Lydia Ko shot 68 and finished 20-under in a bogey-free tournament.

Lewis and Jutanugarn posted identical scores for all four days, three of them while playing together. They had been at least tied for the lead the first two days.

Ha Na Jang shot a 63, as did Moriya Jutanugarn. Nang finished at 21-under and Moriya Jutanugarn at 20-under.

Perhaps the day's most remarkable round was turned in by 56-year-old Julie Inkster, who shot a 64, her best round since 2003.

What keeps her going?

"I really enjoy playing golf, and I really enjoy practicing," Inkster said. "And I really enjoy working on my game, especially when you have days like this when things come together.

"I just got to learn how to put four rounds together again (but) I really like the direction I'm going."

Michelle Wie, in contention the first two days, shot 70 and finished at 14-under after she bogeyed her final two holes.


-- Gerina Piller scored a hole-in-one at the par-3, 185-yard 14th.

-- Temperatures reached the mid-90s on Sunday.

-- Anna Nordqvist's round of 61 Saturday was one for the books. Only 13 other players have ever posted a 61, with only four recording a 60. Just one player, Annika Sorenstam, has shot a 59. In addition, Nordqvist is the only LPGA player to have multiple rounds of 61 in her career (twice).

-- Three of the original 13 LPGA founders, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler, were in attendance this week. They sat on the "Founder's Perch" just behind the 18th green. "The current players get to know the founders and get to know their stories and what they did to make this tour what it is," Stacy Lewis said. "That's really what this week is about."

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