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Five Things to Know about the game’s biggest stars heading into the ANA Inspiration

RANCHO MIRAGE, California – With eight of the prime 10 gamers in the world ending inside the prime 10 finally week’s Kia Classic, expectations are excessive that the yr’s first main may very well be an absolute thriller. Players say they’ve by no means seen Mission Hill’s Dinah Shore Tournament Course in such pristine situation. It’s agency and quick and more and more heat right here in the desert.

Here’s are 5 issues to know going into the 50th ANA Inspiration:

1. Inbee Park rose to No. 2 in the world this week. She’s been ranked both No. 1 or No. 2 for 22 % of her LPGA profession. After operating away with final week’s Kia Classic, her 21st LPGA victory, the seven-time main winner comes into this week a heavy favourite.

Park first rose to No. 1 in the world on April 15, 2013, the week after successful the ANA (identified then as the Kraft Nabisco) and spent a complete of 106 weeks there. Would a fifth stretch at the prime, at age 32, be significant otherwise?

“I think that it would mean a lot because I kind of thought that, will I be No. 1 again?” mentioned Park. “I was asking the same question to myself for few years.

“Being able to do it again would be meaning a lot obviously, that I can still compete out here. Being the best player in the world still for the long time is a good confidence.”

When requested for the secret of her longevity, Park pointed straight to her husband, G.H. Nam, who doubles as her swing coach. His presence on tour week in and week out not solely offers Park a way of dwelling and luxury on the street, it helps to maintain her from falling into any unhealthy habits together with her swing.

“Probably my swing is a little bit easier on my body, like not swinging so hard,” mentioned Park. “Rhythm is not too quick. So maybe that’s the key to the consistency. I don’t know.”

Lexi Thompson throughout spherical 1 of the 2019 ANA Inspiration at Dinah Shore at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

2. Lexi Thompson has begun working with Martin Hall, Morgan Pressel’s longtime swing teacher and host of Golf Channel’s “School of Golf.” Thompson mentioned she’s seen him two or thrice now.

“Just keeping things simple,” mentioned Thompson, “but at the same time trying to improve on little things.”

Stats guru Justin Ray tweeted that Thompson is a mixed 49-under par in the final 5 years at ANA, 13 strokes forward of her nearest competitor in Ariya Jutanugarn. And but, Thompson’s lone main title got here earlier than that at the 2014 ANA. She’s had 5 top-7s since then.

“I’ve been working hard on my mental game and being more relaxed out there, and hopefully that helps me out more than anything,” mentioned Thompson.

“I know I’ve put in the work physically on my game everything and so just letting it go and letting my true talent show is what I want. You know, if that comes out to a win, great. If not, I’m going to continue working.”

3. Brooke Henderson switched to left-hand-low from inside 10 ft finally week’s Kia Classic, the place she tied for 10th. Henderson mentioned she felt comfy with the large change and that she’ll maintain going with it.

Henderson’s father, Dave, can be her coach and usually travels fairly a bit together with his spouse, following their two daughters. With COVID-19, nonetheless, Henderson’s mother and father have remained in Canada. The final time Dave was at a event was January 2020.

“He’s always there, like virtually,” mentioned Henderson, who misplaced in a playoff at the ANA final yr to Mirim Lee, “always helping us out and sending us his notes that he has on every course and FaceTiming and everything. So it’s been OK. Definitely miss having my mom and him out here, to show support and helping out on the course.”

LPGA: ANA Inspiration - Final Round

LPGA: ANA Inspiration – Final Round

Jin Young Ko waves to the followers after successful 2019 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jin Young Ko put a brand new driver into play for the second spherical of final week’s Kia Classic. Ko had used a Callaway mannequin for the previous three years however switched to the Titleist TS3.

While No. 1-ranked Ko didn’t compete in final September’s ANA, selecting as a substitute to keep again in South Korea due to the pandemic, she did observe at Mission Hills in the weeks following the tour’s Florida swing. She was happy to see her identify on the Walk of Champions.

“I had good practice last three days in Mission Hills,” mentioned Ko, “so I can’t wait for tomorrow and next four days.”

5. Danielle Kang will associate together with her mentor, Annika Sorenstam in a charity match on Wednesday at Mission Hills. Sorenstam isn’t the solely former No. 1 Kang leans on. Inbee Park’s U.S. base is in Las Vegas, the place Kang makes her dwelling.

“I don’t think many people know she’s literally like my older sister, my adopted mom,” mentioned Kang. “I joke around that I’m an adopted child of her and her husband. They feed me, they drive me, they buy me ice cream. She has been there for me through thick and thin. You know, supported me since the beginning.

“And whether it’s when I went up to world No. 2 – it was a really weird feeling being at world No. 2, and she was the only player to give me a call ­like, is one of the main people to give me call and say, ‘Let’s go to 1, we can do it, all that.’ ”

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