Alexa Pano Earns Playoff Victory at ISPS Handa World Invitational | LPGA | Association of Women’s Golf Professionals

It was a birthday to remember for Alexa Pano as she won the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Presented by AVIV Clinics in a dramatic playoff.

After rounds of 76-70-69-66, Pano finished the tournament with a total of eight under par and found herself in a playoff along with Germany’s Esther Henseleit and England’s Gabriella Cowley.

The American, who turns 19 today, headed back to 18 and birdied the first playoff hole, as did Cowley to send them back to the tee.

Despite her tee shot ending up in the trees, Pano made par on the second playoff hole while Cowley missed her birdie as both returned to 18u t-shirt again.

On the third playoff hole, Pano birdied the green in two and made two shots for a birdie to win her maiden LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET) title.

“I’ve kind of said that I really wanted to win this event because it’s on my birthday.” the LPGA Tour rookie said.

“My best friend can compete for about two months. It’s so surreal that it happened. It was a little crazy because I didn’t have my clothes and clubs earlier in the week, but it was worth it.

“It feels so surreal right now to have my dad in the bag too. I can’t really process that this just happened.”

Pano fired a round of 66 (-6) on the fourth day at Galgorm to claim victory, making three bogeys and nine birdies, including two on her final two holes.

England’s Cowley carded a round of 70 (-2) in the final day’s competition and eagled the last to secure her place in the play-off.

The 27-year-old had a chance to take victory on the second playoff hole when she had a five-footer, but unfortunately, she missed it and Pano birdied the next hole.

While two-time LET winner Henseleit produced a second consecutive round of 69 (-3) that included three birdies in her final four holes to enter the playoff.

However, the German could only make it to the first playoff hole and ended the week tied for second with Cowley.

Henseleit said: “I’m very happy with how my game is right now and how it’s been the last couple of months. I feel really good on the course. I’ve had a lot of fun playing in contention the last couple of days, so yeah, hopefully, we’ll be back.”

American Ryann O’Toole finished fourth at seven under after a final round 70 (-2) in Northern Ireland.

Germany’s Olivia Cowan shot a final round of 68 (-4) to close the week in fifth place and secure back-to-back top-10 finishes.

“I am very pleased,” said the LET winner. “I played very nicely today. I played well the last two days. I had a bad finish yesterday but I tried to stay positive and carry on today.

“My new mindset is going well, I haven’t gotten angry yet, so I’m sticking with it. I think good golf will follow. Last week also gave me a lot of confidence, going into the week knowing my game was fine. I’m just excited to play in the next events.”

Spain’s Azahara Muñoz carded the round of the week – a 66 (-6) – to move up the leaderboard as she finished in sixth place alongside India’s Diksha Dagar.

“I’ve just been playing great all week, hitting really good shots, but my putter has been kind of cold.” said the Spaniard.

“Well, I just started, right off the bat I hit the 3-wood on a par-5 to maybe ten feet, so I actually two-putted for birdie. After that I made some nice putts and today was really nice. I played solid and eventually saw some putts drop.

“I knew I really had to go low today. Shame I didn’t get the last birdie, but I gave myself a chance. I loved playing here. It was really tough and really, I’m really proud of myself for how well I played in those conditions because I had a tough draw as well. I’m just happy that I’m hitting the ball really well so hopefully I can get the footy.”

While Dagar explained: “Yesterday I could have done better and because of yesterday’s experience I played aggressively today. An extra club due to yesterday’s weather. I feel so excited. I wanted to do it and I want to catch it and I wanted to make it a little difficult for the leaders as well.”

Chinese Taipei’s Peiyun Chien finished the week in eighth place on four under with Switzerland’s Kim Metraux a shot further back in ninth.

While Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai, Finland’s Noora Komulainen and Wales’ Chloe Williams are tied for tenth place.

In the race for Costa del Sol 2023, Celine Boutier of France continues to lead with 1,725.38 with Spain’s Ana Peláez Trivino in second (1,487.20) and India’s Aditi Ashok in third (1,309.19).

Sweden’s Linn Grant is fourth with 1,276.28 points and India’s Diksha Dagar closed the gap to fifth and now has 1,237.34 points with Czech Klara Davidson Spilkova in sixth (10.66.46).

Germany’s Cowan moves up to seventh and now has 1,062.47 points with Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson in eighth, England’s Cara Gainer in ninth and Charley Hull in tenth.

Cowley jumps from 30u until 11u position in the 2023 standings and now has 920.27 points to her name.

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