Karrie Webb has backed Hannah Green and Minjee Lee to contend at this week's ANA Inspiration despite the women's major facing scorching California desert temperatures, poor air quality and the potential for players to have to ride in carts.
The event at Mission Hills CC, at Rancho Mirage in the Coachella Valley, has been thrown into turmoil after COVID-19 forced the LPGA Tour to reschedule what is usually the first women's major of the year from its traditional early April date.
Now, it will be played amid daily temperatures about 40C and wildfires rocking the state of California, with smoke blowing in from the El Dorado blaze some 80km away.
LPGA Tour officials are monitoring air quality and are "not ruling out carts for players on tournament days".
Australian golf great Webb, the 2000 and 2006 winner of the ANA, said this edition will have a completely foreign feel.
"With this heat wave, Mission Hills will play firm and fast and the course will look and play very different," Webb told AAP from Florida.
"Because of the time of year, the course will be Bermuda grass and not overseeded, which is a big change.
"Someone who has only played the event once or twice will probably have more of an advantage than someone who has played it 20 times."
Despite the circumstances, seven-time major winner Webb believes World No.5 Lee and 2019 Women's PGA Championship winner Green will feature on the leaderboard.
“The results between Hannah and Minjee suggest they'll be in contention; Minjee had a great Women's Open.” – Karrie Webb
The Western Australia duo spearhead a five-strong Australian contingent which also includes Su Oh, Katherine Kirk and star amateur Gabi Ruffels.
In-form Lee finished third at the recent Women's British Open, where she played in the final group with winner Sophia Popov.
"The results between Hannah and Minjee suggest they'll be in contention; Minjee had a great Women's Open," Webb said.
"But Su Oh is always someone I keep my eye on at big events, especially when there's a premium on hitting the fairway like there is at Mission Hills.
"Katherine Kirk played nicely (tied seventh) at the LPGA event in Arkansas last week and she grew up playing on Bermuda grass."
Hall of Fame member Webb also likes the chances of 20-year-old Ruffels, who plays regularly at the Mission Hills course given her parents live nearby.
Ruffels – last year's US Women's Amateur champion and the runner-up at the same event a month ago – is the daughter of former tennis stars Anna Maria Fernandez, an American, and Ray Ruffels.
"The fact Gabi plays a lot at Mission Hills is great advantage for her," Webb said.
"She's also got my old caddie, Mikey Paterson, on the bag this week and he won there with me in 2006, so he has a lot of experience on that course."
ANA defending champion and World No.1 Jin Young Ko is skipping the event due to travel concerns related to COVID-19 while spectators have been barred.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press