The 50th edition of the ANA Inspiration will take place April 1 – 4 at Mission Hills Country Club, Rancho Mirage, California, marking a return to its usual position on the calendar as the first Major of the year.
This historic Major, which has 38 different champions over its 49-year history, will once again gather the world’s best women with the field headed by defending champion, Mirim Lee, who claimed her first Major title last year over the famous Dinah Shore Tournament Course.
The South Korean won a dramatic three-way play-off last September, sealing victory at the first play-off hole. Lee eagled her 72nd hole on the Sunday to draw level with Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson, remarkably having not held the lead at any point during the tournament. Now a four-time LPGA winner, Lee calmly holed a five-foot putt for birdie to snatch victory from Korda and Henderson – both of whom had held the lead over the course of the final day.
As with last year’s tournament, this special 50th Anniversary edition will be going ahead without spectators due to Covid-19 related restrictions following close collaboration with partners ANA, the LPGA, the City of Rancho Mirage, Mission Hills Country Club and in consultation with the Riverside County Health Department, following the State of California Public Health Department guidelines.
With no onsite hospitality possible this year, tournament organisers have taken this unique opportunity, coinciding with 50th Anniversary celebrations, to play the famous 18th island green surrounded by the famous Poppie’s Pond in its purest state. As far as the records show, the world’s best golfers will be approaching the 18th green just as the competitors would have encountered it in its inaugural edition in 1972, clear of any hospitality units or branding.
Lee is looking forward to revisiting the scene of her victory just six month ago, said: “I can’t wait to return to Rancho Mirage as the defending champion. Usually you have to wait 12 months to get to defend a title so it’s pretty unusual we will be back there so soon. For me personally, I think it will be wonderful to be back there as soon as possible and have the chance to relive all the happy memories and feelings of winning there last year. I am very sad that all the amazing fans still won’t be able to return this year, but it is a very understandable and sensible decision to make when we are in a global pandemic. We are all very grateful to ANA, the LPGA, IMG, Mission Hills and Rancho Mirage and all the partners for working so hard for us to make it possible for us to play the year’s first Major as scheduled.”
Germany’s Aline Krauter, a Junior at Stanford University, has also seized the chance to play in the season-opening Major, commenting, “It is such a fantastic opportunity for me to gain experience playing amongst the world’s best in the season’s first major. I could not think of a more historic venue to play my first major championship at. I am honored to have been given this amazing opportunity to test my game at the next level.”
Fans will be able to watch the ANA Inspiration around the world, including on Golf Channel and Sky Sports, and follow along for enhanced content on social @ANAinspiration and the tournament website ANAinspiration.com