Song upbeat despite ANA Inspiration heartbreak

Jennifer Song lost in a playoff in the ANA Inspiration to Park In-bee and Pernilla Lindberg. (Reuters pic)

RANCHO MIRAGE: American Jennifer Song came agonisingly close to claiming an improbable major title at the ANA Inspiration on Sunday but is now just a spectator as the tournament will continue in a playoff without her.

Song, who has yet to win on the LPGA Tour and has just one top-10 finish in a major during her career, had a six-foot putt to win the second hole of a three-player playoff but watched it slide by.

The 28-year-old was eliminated on the third playoff hole when she made par.

South Korean Park In-bee and Swede Pernilla Lindberg will continue the playoff on Monday without her.

“I’m kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to make those putts in the playoffs, but I learned a lot,” Song told reporters, remaining upbeat despite the missed opportunity.

“Well, I’ve never been in this position in a major event, and I just wanted to embrace myself and just take one shot at a time.”

Song was just one storyline during a frantic final day of competition.

Two players finished just one shot out of the playoff, including American Jessica Korda, who fired a final-round six-under-par 66 but could not seize her first ever major.

“Oh, (it’s) so hard,” said Korda, of pursuing a major win. “It takes everything on your side, and definitely the least amount of mistakes. These girls are so good.”

Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn also finished one shot out of the playoff.

She closed with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes but could not make birdie on the finishing par-5 18th.

The ANA Inspiration will end in a dramatic playoff for the second consecutive year, though last year’s version was marred by Lexi Thompson losing after a rules violation was called in by a spectator.

Thompson will not be a part of this year’s finish, though her presence was strongly felt as she received strong support from the California crowds.

“Last year was definitely a learning curve. I learned overall how strong I was,” Thompson said.