RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – The ANA Inspiration celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, and the 18th green has gone retro. No grandstand. No Great Wall of Dinah. Just an island of drama.
Or will or not it’s?
“I honestly find it a bit boring,” mentioned Madelene Sagstrom, who believes not many will go for the green in two, even with a ahead tee. Tournament officers usually transfer the tee up on two days throughout the ANA Inspiration.
Mel Reid will doubtless go for it with a 5-iron in hand as a result of she’s that sort of aggressive participant, however she too believes fewer gamers will tackle the danger with greens as agency as they’re and the grass mowed down in the again and nothing there to cease it. Not to say the yellow hazard stakes.
For years there was usually a grandstand behind the green for VIP hospitality. With no followers at final September’s ANA, organizers opted to as a substitute put up a big blue wall – nearer than the grandstands often sit – with ANA scripted in small letters throughout the prime. As far as billboards go, it wasn’t precisely efficient.
Not surprisingly, the wall got here into play in a huge manner when Mirim Lee rocketed a 5-wood at it, banking on the wall to cease her ball from moving into the water. It labored, and Lee proceeded to chip for eagle to make her manner into a playoff in opposition to Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda that Lee rapidly received. Henderson’s second shot in regulation obtained caught below the wall and her sister/caddie Brittany crawled inside the blue mesh to retrieve it.
The blue wall behind the 18th green at the ANA Inspiration throughout a Golf Channel broadcast. (Beth Ann Nichols/Golfweek)
“The amount of time the boys hit it into grandstands and get away with shots and bounce onto greens,” mentioned Reid, “and then they just made a big fuss because we didn’t have any crowds. I mean, it’s been like that for years. I don’t think they needed to change it, but I get why they have because it does look a little bit stupid with no crowd, but it’s tough.”
Stacy Lewis, a previous champion of this occasion, appreciates that the gap now performs because it was initially designed. (It’s additionally performed this fashion throughout the first stage of LPGA Q-School.) Lewis by no means goes for this green in two although, so nothing actually adjustments for her.
“I hit 5-iron yesterday, landed in the middle of the green and went over in the water,” mentioned Ryann O’Toole.
The identical factor occurred to Jennifer Kupcho with a 4-iron.
Nelly Korda hit a 6-iron simply brief and it rolled into the center of the green. Her 5-iron went over the green. Korda mentioned she was undecided on whether or not or not she likes the change.
Last yr, Lexi Thompson had a 7-iron in from the ahead tee to a again pin. That’s the shortest she has seen it play. This morning, Thompson hit a 4-iron that labored out fairly properly. If it’s more than a 6-iron although, Thompson mentioned she doubtless received’t go for it in competitors.
“It would have to be a perfect number honestly, with any club, to get the full max height to be able to stop it,” mentioned Thompson. “But it’s good, it’s a major. It should be challenging and require more thought.”
Mirim Lee hits her third shot onto the 18th green throughout the second spherical of the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California on Sept. 11, 2020. (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)
Brooke Henderson mentioned it’s not an computerized green gentle with 3-wood in hand, but when she has hybrid or 7-wood in, she’ll positively going for it.
If Maria Fassi finds the fairway, she’ll doubtless go for it. From the again tee on Monday, she hit 5-iron with a serving to wind onto the green. On Tuesday, she hit 7-iron from the ahead tee.
“It makes you think a little bit more,” mentioned Fassi. “It demands a better golf shot as well. I think it’s fun.”
Yani Tseng, the 2010 ANA winner, believes the uncooked island green makes for a nice end: “This is real golf.”
To guarantee more drama over the weekend, Katherine Kirk believes softening the green more is the reply.
Sue Witters, LPGA vice chairman of guidelines and competitors, mentioned they’ve already began including water to the greens after Monday performed notably agency.
“The greens got firm on us yesterday,” Witters mentioned on Tuesday.
With temperatures anticipated to achieve 99 levels over the weekend, gamers count on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course to get more baked out as the week goes on.
World Golf Hall of Famer Judy Rankin, lead analyst for Golf Channel this week, likes to see the most iconic gap on the LPGA return to its authentic type. This is how the closing par 5 performed when she received in 1976.
“You have find a way to reward a shot that’s well-struck,” mentioned Rankin, of constructing certain that the green is receptive all through the week.