RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Cinderella has some company at the ANA Inspiration.
A lot of it.
Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg isn’t alone looking like an outsider crashing the party on the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills.
The 31-year-old Swede will be trying to win for the first time in her 250th cumulative start on the LPGA, Ladies European and Symetra tours.
She will go off Sunday in the final pairing alongside Amy Olson.
Linderg is No. 95 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.
Olson, formerly Amy Anderson, the U.S. Girls’ Junior champ in 2009, is ranked 218th in the world.
They’re both seeking to make their first LPGA titles a major championship.
While they are being pursued by a couple of major champions, the pack chasing them is made up mostly of players just like them, women looking to break through in a big way and claim their first LPGA title.
Lindberg closed out a 2-under-par 70 Saturday after carving her approach to 5 feet at the last and making birdie. At 14 under overall, she is looking to complete this dreamy week with a wire-to-wire victory.
Olson (68) is three shots behind her.
Six players are four shots back, the most formidable being seven-time major champion Inbee Park (67) and the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champ, Sung Hyun Park (74).
Charley Hull (69), Moriya Jutanugarn (66), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69) and Jennifer Song (68) also are in that pack.
“I think it's going to be interesting,” Olson said. “I really think that anybody can win. There are so many names bunched up there. I think you're just going to have to go out and shoot a low number, and whoever does that is going to walk away with the trophy.”
Lindberg set the ANA’s 36-hole record on Friday at 12 under, sharing the mark with Sung Hyun Park. Lindberg left the course that day and played tourist with her parents. They took a gondola 8,500 feet up and hiked Mount San Jacinto.
She’ll be looking to climb another mountain Sunday, maybe the toughest climb of her playing career.
And she can’t wait.
“I've been on tour long enough to be in a lot of heated moments,” Lindberg said. “I just keep collecting experience, each and every year around here. I've played a lot of golf in my life, and I just feel like the pieces are kind of falling together. I'm just letting it happen.”
Lindberg stared down Sung Hyun Park, the LPGA’s co-Player of the Year last season, and won the day. She turned to her caddie, Daniel Taylor, at Saturday’s start to set the tone.
“I said that to him before the round, `How cool is this experience?’” Lindberg said. “It's not very many people that get to do this, play a major, go out in the last group. I just said, `Let's just have fun. Let's just enjoy it.’”
Boy, did she ever.
In the 47-year history of this championship, nobody has gone as low as Lindberg through three rounds. She broke the 54-hole scoring record shared by Dottie Pepper and Amy Alcott.
Sung Hyun Park couldn’t shake Lindberg.
With three consecutive birdies, Park took a two-shot lead to the 12th hole, looking as if she was going to start running away from everybody.
Park, though, stumbled coming home.
She bogeyed the 12th and 13th holes, double bogeyed the 15th and bogeyed the 16th.
“There were a bunch of fairways that I couldn't miss, so that was something that I am disappointed in, my shots today,” Park said.
Lindberg made one clutch putt after another on the day, for birdies and pars. She holed a 20-footer for birdie at the 14th to regain sole possession of the lead. She holed a 25-footer for par at the 15th to keep her cushion.
In that final pairing, Lindberg and Olson will be right behind Inbee Park, the Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medal winner.
“This is what we strive for,” Lindberg said. “This is what we want to do.”