RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Mirim Lee ran toward the water for the winner's leap into Poppie's Pond, and there was no blue wall to stop her.
How she even got to that point as the ANA Inspiration champion was shocking even to Lee.
She chipped in twice to stay in the hunt for a major title that for the longest time looked as though it would come down to Nelly Korda or Brooke Henderson. And then after a 5-wood that caromed off a temporary blue wall behind the 18th green and kept it from going in the water, Lee chipped for eagle and a 5-under 67.
That got her into a three-way playoff, and Lee ended it quickly.
She hit 5-wood just through the green — no help needed from the wall on that one — chipped to 5 feet and made the birdie putt. Korda missed the 18th fairway for the second time and made par, while Henderson's 7-foot birdie putt in the playoff stayed left of the hole.
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After 72-holes, Ruixin Liu and Rose Zhang both finished 17-under par. The first playoff-hole both would make par. Back to the tee, Liu and Zhang found the fairway again. But Zhang’s second shot found the desert left of the fairway and she would have to take an unplayable, while Liu found herself on the green in three and sunk her birdie putt.
“Obviously she is well known and a really good player so there was definitely pressure,” said Liu. “It was also my first time ever playing in a playoff, which is a lot of pressure in itself too. I am just glad I was able to pull it off with a birdie on the second playoff hole.”
Due to the famous "Bear Trap," often windy conditions and tricky greens, PGA National (Champion) is widely known as one of the most difficult golf courses on the PGA TOUR. Even the best players in the world were challenged at The Honda Classic 2021.