It may have a new title sponsor for 2015—and therefore a brand new name—but All Nippon Airways’ ANA Inspiration (formerly the Kraft Nabisco Championship) is set to sail into Rancho Mirage at the Mission Hills Country Club from March 30 to April 15.
Still known all over the world as the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s first major of the year, the tournament boasts a $2.5 million purse, and will be beamed across the globe on television’s Golf Channel. Of course, those of us who live—or may find ourselves—in Rancho Mirage during that time can catch all the excitement live and in person.
My co-blogger Potter Palma and I were lucky enough to be invited to the media day for the ANA last Tuesday, March 10, at Mission Hills. There sporting her big smile and her bronzed bod was 20-year-old defending champ Lexi Thompson, who spoke warmly not only about Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage, and the entire Palm Springs Valley but about what it meant to her to take that famous victor’s leap into Poppie’s Pond.
Yuji Hirako—who serves as senior vice president of the Americas for ANA—was also present with all we desert dwellers and visitors, and made it clear that one of his company’s sponsorship’s goals is to help establish a greater U.S. presence for ANA (“The Inspiration of Japan”).
I’m at this majestic sports event every year, and I simply can’t wait to see how the change in sponsorship will affect the goings-on. I trust that all that is new will be positive, and that lots of that legendary Japanese hospitality will come into play on and off the greens. Fore!