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Swede Lindberg wins ANA Inspiration in major upset

(Reuters) – Swede Pernilla Lindberg made her first LPGA victory a major when she when she won a marathon playoff at the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California on Monday.

Apr 1, 2018; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Pernilla Lindberg reads after a putt during the final round of the ANA Inspiration women’s golf tournament at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

World number 95 Lindberg completed a big upset when she rammed home a 25-foot birdie putt to beat South Korean Park In-bee at the eighth extra hole at Mission Hills.

Lindberg’s winning putt slammed against the back of the cup at speed and fell in at the par-four 10th.

Seven-times major champion Park then missed a 15-foot birdie chance that would have extended the playoff.

Lindberg is the third Swede to win the Mission Hills major, after Annika Sorenstam (three times) and Helen Alfredsson.

Her unlikely victory came after the 31-year-old slept on the lead four nights in a row.

“I just know I’m a grinder and towards the end yesterday I just felt this is mine. I’m kind of due this,” Lindberg, 31, told Golf Channel.

“I just looked at every day as just the same thing again, and even today, I felt like I went out and did my same routine. I just felt so calm and I felt this could be mine.”

Apr 1, 2018; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Pernilla Lindberg watches her shot on the 18th hole on a playoff during the final round of the ANA Inspiration women’s golf tournament at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Even so, she was as surprised as anyone when her winning putt disappeared into the hole.

“I couldn’t believe when that last putt went in,” she said.

The playoff was forced into Monday because darkness halted play on Sunday night after four extra holes.

What started as a three-way playoff was whittled down to two when American Jennifer Song was unable to match the birdies by Lindberg and Park at the third extra hole.

Lindberg had a chance to win at the seventh extra hole, the par-five 18th, but she hit a timid birdie putt from about five feet that missed on the low side.

She made amends at the next hole, however, to complete a dream that goes back to her childhood.

“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,” she said.

“But at the same time that felt like too big of a dream to even come true, but it has.”

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond

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