While COVID-19 prohibits spectators on the course for The 2021 ANA Inspiration, World No.1 Jin Young Ko returns to Rancho Mirage April 1 – 4 in the first Major of the year. The 2019 ANA Inspiration champion wasn’t able to defend her title in 2020 due to travel concerns related to the pandemic. Ko instead remained home in the Republic of Korea.
Back on the links
“The ANA Inspiration will be forever dear to me as my very first LPGA major championship,” Ko commented from afar last year. She now states, “I can’t wait to return to Rancho Mirage. I have such happy memories from the whole week there in 2019, and with it being the first major win of my career, I think it will always be one of my most special achievements in my career. I hated missing the 2020 tournament and not having the chance to defend my title, so I think I feel even more excited to return. I will be doing everything possible to prepare to give myself the best chance to win the ANA Inspiration this year.”
While she didn’t play much on the LPGA Tour in 2020, the South Korean star has stayed atop of the world rankings. When she was able to resume play in the U.S., she returned right where she left off by tying for second in the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open and then winning the season finale 2020 CME Group Tour Championship. It’s there she also took home the biggest prize: $1.1 million.
The 2020 defending champion Mirim Lee also returns to the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. In what was an unpredictable year of golf for so many, Lee admitted to CNN that a month before the rescheduled tournament in September 2020, she was struggling with her motivation. She told her teacher and former Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) Tour player Kim Song-Hee that she didn’t want to play due to exhaustion. After taking the trophy, Lee said, “I changed in a month! I changed after struggling for three years, not playing well, so [Song-Hee] said: ‘This is really crazy! You’re mad!’”
As the tournament celebrate its 50th anniversary, other past champions join Ko and Lee, including Pernilla Lindberg, (2018) So-yeon Ryu, (2017) Lydia Ko, (2016) Brittany Lincicome, (2015) Lexi Thompson, (2014) Inbee Park, (2013) Stacy Lewis (2011) and Yani Tseng. (2010)
As cheering fans catch the action on television, viewers will likely notice changes the tournament will make this year that go back in time, “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.” Gone will be the big blue “Great Wall of Dinah” golfers encountered during last year’s tournament that displeased players and spectators alike.
Get ready to watch
Play is scheduled as follows:
- First Round: Thursday, April 1 – 9 a.m.-1p.m. PST, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. PST
- Second Round: Friday, April 2 – 9 a.m.-1p.m. PST, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. PST
- Third Round: Saturday, April 3 – 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. PST
- Final Round: Sunday, April 4 – 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. PST
The first Major will be broadcast on Golf Channel and Sky Sports. Additionally, fans can follow along with enhanced content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the official website. Take a look back at 50 years, get info on each hole, browse the official program online and sign up to receive newsletter updates.
Want to watch with other golf fans? Head out to one of Rancho Mirage’s many restaurants or bars that will be tuning into the tournament.