Both players shot 66 to tie on nine under par and a bogey five at the first play-off hole – the 18th – was enough for 30-year-old Nordqvist to add another major to the 2009 LPGA Championship.
With lashing rain and strong winds sweeping the course, the play-off was staged in horrendous conditions and the 18th green had to be squeegeed before the players could putt.
Both players laid up short of the water in two and then Altomare took three from the edge of the green for a six. Nordqvist got up and down from left off the green for a winning five. Last year, Nordqvist lost in extra time at the US Women’s Open when she was penalised two shots for brushing sand in a bunker with her club – and this year she has suffered from glandular fever and is still not back to full fitness.
“My late grandfather always told me never to give up and that’s what what I try to do,” she said. “The play-off conditions were absolutely awful, but I grew up in Sweden so I am used to playing in pretty bad weather. It has been a tough few months. I always wanted to make the Solheim Cup and I did that. But I have been exhausted. I don’t enjoy lying in bed and not being able to do anything. Because of the illness, it definitely makes this win sweeter.”
Five behind at the start of the final round and seven adrift after two early bogeys, it was a birdie at the sixth and then an eagle at the long seventh that sparked her march to victory. Another eagle at the long 15th was decisive.
The championship was reduced to 54 holes after Thursday’s play was wiped out by severe storms and the last day was a real ding-dong affair. Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugran, the overnight leader, was two ahead at the turn, but her chances of a first win on Tour were blighted by a drive out of bounds at the 13th.
She came to the tough 18th needing a par to make the play-off. But she had to lay up with her second shot, hit it way left, and ended up making bogey for a round of 72.
Lydia Ko, the 2015 champion, was also one shy after a final hole lay-up for a 69, while Australian Katherine Kirk birdied the last for a 70 and finished in the three-way tie for third place. World No 1 So Yeon Ryu only tied for 40th, but that was still good enough to secure the Rolex Annika Major Award for 2017. It is given to the player with the best results in a major, including at least one victory. She won the ANA Inspiration at the start of the season.
Meanwhile, chairman Mark Lichtenhein has delivered an upbeat prediction for the future of the Ladies European Tour despite a difficult year for the circuit including the loss of events, the departure of its chief executive and a Solheim Cup defeat.
“We know that the Ladies European Tour is an attractive product with an impressive international footprint which has helped to inspire and develop women’s golf, but the LET Board is now busy consolidating the schedule at home, with a focus on securing more quality tournaments for our players in Europe,” he said.
“We want to build strong partnerships with sponsors and promoters, working to their requirements and the specific needs of golf in individual countries. We are in discussions with the LPGA and other commercial partners and are following up on over 20 recent enquiries and proposals across Europe, from Lisbon to Moscow, to better understand the needs of local markets.”