The LPGA Tour travels to California and the heat of the desert for the second major of its revised 2020 season. Who will claim the ANA Inspiration and make the refreshing leap into Poppie’s Pond?
DEFENDING CHAMPION: South Korean Jin Young Ko reached 10-under-par 278 last year to defeat her compatriot Mi Hyang Lee by three shots. The World No.1 has chosen not to defend her title, however, due to the travel protocols required by both South Korea and the United States because of the coronavirus.
COURSE: The Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California was designed by Desmond Muirhead and built in 1970. The layout measures 6,184 metres (par-72) and features an exciting, 591-metre closing hole with an island green, which usually plays its role in determining each year’s champion. It is also home to Poppie’s Pond, which Amy Alcott jumped into after her victories in 1988 and 1991 to spark what has since became the traditional celebratory leap.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
South Korean Sung Hyun Park is set to make her first LPGA Tour appearance of the season, having sat out the first eight months due to the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19.
The former World No.1 has two previous top-10 finishes at the ANA Inspiration (T6th in 2016 & T9th in 2018) and has never missed the cut from four appearances.
Park, who will turn 27 in two weeks, should be right amongst it this week if she plays anywhere near full capacity, however there is obviously very little form to go by.
RIGHT: Jin Young Ko won her first major championship here last year. But she won’t be defending her title this week. PHOTO: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images.
Minjee Lee has recorded an impressive 51 career top-10s on the LPGA Tour – but only four of them have come at the majors and you would imagine she is becoming increasingly desperate to amend that.
The 24-year-old from Perth shared 21st place here last year and was T3rd in 2017. She will arrive at Mission Hills off the back of 15 consecutive made cuts and an impressive third-place finish at Royal Troon during the Women’s British Open.
Californian Danielle Kang looked unstoppable between the backend of July and early parts of August – winning twice and finishing T5th in her only other start – however her two most recent efforts have only heralded shares of 49th and 32nd.
The World No.2 should still be feeling confident though and will be boosted by the fact she was T6th here last year.
72-HOLE RECORD: Two-time champion Dottie Pepper (1992 & 1999) won her second title in ‘99 by reaching 19-under-par 269 to defeat her American compatriot Meg Mallon by six shots.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Karrie Webb (2006 & 2000).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Hannah Green, Katherine Kirk, Minjee Lee, Su Oh and Gabriela Ruffels.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 6am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 2am – 6am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4am – 8am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 4am – 8am)
*AEST, check local guides