RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Somebody fill Poppie’s Pond with champagne.
The winner of the ANA Inspiration is going to deserve more than a bottle of vintage bubbly to celebrate on Monday, when this championship finally ends.
If this championship ever ends . . .
The bid to crown a winner Sunday was historic, with tournament officials cranking up lights to try to complete the sudden-death playoff in the dark.
It will be remembered as the first major championship played under the lights, but even that dramatic effort wasn’t enough.
Inbee Park and Pernilla Lindberg will return Monday at 11 a.m. ET to the Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Course to resume their epic battle.
Seventy-two holes wasn’t enough.
And four playoff holes wasn’t enough to boil this championship down to one deserving winner, with so many players giving themselves chances to the bitter end of regulation.
Park, Lindberg and Jennifer Song ended up in the first three-way playoff in this championship’s 47-year history. They played the 18th hole four times, with Song eliminated with a par on the third playoff hole.
With the lights up aside the 18th green for that fourth playoff hole, Park two putted from 35 feet for par and Lindberg two-putted from 15 feet for par.
There was no chance to start a fifth playoff hole, with darkness fully descended.
The playoff was set to move to the 10th tee. That’s where it will resume on Monday, with the rotation 10-17-18 the rest of the way.
It’s all down to a battle of legend vs. journeywoman, though it doesn’t seem a fair assessment of Lindberg, the 31-year-old Swede who is playing this week as if she has won a bunch of majors. She has delivered one clutch shot and putt after another, through all four rounds. She’s still alive to be the wire-to-wire winner of this event.
Lindberg posted a 1-under-par 71 Sunday, making birdie at the last to get into the playoff. Park came from four shots back to catch Lindberg.
Park is seeking to win her eighth major championship.
Lindberg is seeking to win her first tour title in her 250th start in LPGA, Ladies European and Symetra tour events.
It was a crazy day.
Lindberg took a three-shot lead into the final round, but her lead was gone before she even broke a sweat.
She bogeyed the first and third holes to fall into a six-way tie for the lead.
The poor folks hanging numbers at the old-fashioned wooden scorecard aside the 18th green should have thrown up their hands and gone home.
The electronic scoreboards should have blown fuses.
The lead seemed to change every hole.
Nine players led or shared the lead in the final round.
In the end, a half dozen players walked up the 18th fairway knowing they had a chance to win.
Ariya Jutanugarn, trying to erase the memory of a tough loss here two years ago, mounted a terrific final-round charge. She was seven shots back at day’s start but posted a 65, to get to 14 under as the leader in the clubhouse.
Jessica Korda was brilliant all day. She holed a wedge from the ninth fairway for eagle. She holed out from a bunker at the 14th for birdie. She shot 66 to equal Jutanugarn at 14 under.
They waited at the practice putting green to see who might meet them in a playoff, or beat them.
The drama was only beginning.
Song sent them home.
She knocked a wedge to the back of the green, spinning it backward to 5 feet. She made birdie to post at 15 under.
Park was in the pairing behind Song. She one-upped her, knocking her approach to 4 feet. She made the birdie to join Song at 15 under.
Linderg followed in the final pairing, lasering her approach to 3 feet to make birdie and complete the playoff lineup.
The drama will continue with some more history being made. It will mark the first time this championship ends on a Monday.