2016 Low Amateurs return to headline group of six amateur invites
Rancho Mirage, CALIFORNIA, March 15, 2017 – Tournament officials today announced that American Hannah O’Sullivan and Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela will headline the group of six amateur invitations to the 2017 ANA Inspiration. The duo, who shared Low Amateur honors at last year’s tournament, will be joined by 2016 ANA Junior Inspiration winner Andrea Lee, 2016 U.S Amateur winner Eun-Jeong Seong, World No. 7 Katelyn Dambaugh and Thailand’s Paphangkorn Tavatanakit.
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion and former world No. 1, O’Sullivan, returns having recently starting a college career at Duke while world No. 3, Valenzuela, went on to represent Switzerland at the Olympics last Summer.
The winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration, which will be contested at Mission Hills Country Club, March 25-26, will also receive a spot in the ANA Inspiration field.
Commenting on the announcement, ANA Inspiration Tournament Director Gabe Codding, said, “We’re delighted to welcome some of the world’s best amateur golfers to Mission Hills Country Club for the LPGA’s first major of the year. As one of the biggest stages in women’s golf, this year’s amateur invitees have a chance to make history and follow in the footsteps of players like Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng and last year’s champion, Lydia Ko, in playing this event before starting their journey in the professional ranks. We wish them the best of luck.”
Mr. Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA said: “The ANA Inspiration provides the perfect stage for the careers of these young athletes to take off by challenging themselves against the best professional players in the world at the most inspiring major of all. We’re excited to welcome such a diverse and gifted group from around the world to our tournament. As a company, we are committed to the future of women’s golf at all levels whether it’s by inviting the best amateur to compete or expanding the ANA Junior Inspiration across North America. Already we are looking forward to seeing these elite amateurs perform on the highest stage as they continue their inspired journey in golf with ANA.”
About the ANA Inspiration
The ANA Inspiration is golf’s first major and one of the LPGA Tour’s most prestigious events. Previously known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the tournament was founded in 1972 by David Foster and Dinah Shore and earned the designation as a major championship in 1983. Contested at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., since its inception, the ANA Inspiration holds the distinction of being the second oldest golf tournament continuously held at the same course. For many, the event is most distinguished by one of golf’s most beloved traditions: the champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond, located adjacent to the 18th green. In 1988, the first champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond was taken by Amy Alcott, and since has become one of the most anticipated and memorable traditions in golf. For more information on the ANA Inspiration, please visit ANAinspiration.com or call 760-834-8872. On social media, visit facebook.com/ANAinspiration, twitter.com/ANAinspiration or instagram.com/ANAinspiration.
Meet the Amateurs:
South Korea’s Eun-Jeong Seong made history in August 2016 when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship to become the first player to win U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships in the same season. She won the Junior title in July to become the first back-to-back winner since Hall of Famer Hollis Stacy claimed her third straight title in 1971. She is also the youngest player to advance to four U.S.G.A. championship finals. She has appeared in a number of professional events over the past few months with impressive finishes at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank (T18) and the Oates Vic Open (T6) on the LET. Seong currently sits 10th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
One of the stars of the AJGA circuit, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, or Patty T as she is better known, has verbally committed to play her college golf at UCLA from 2017. Patty competed in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur last year, losing out in the Round of 16 to eventual Semi-Finalist, Mathilda Cappeliez. Her most impressive performance at the Championship came in the Round of 32 where she demolished Gabriella Then, 7&6 – thanks to 6 birdies and 0 bogeys in her first 12 holes! Patty has played incredibly well on the Junior Tour over the past few years, finishing 2nd at the IMG Junior World in 2015 and winning back to back (2014 & 2015) LA Junior Opens. She was selected to represent APGC in Patsy Hankins Trophy 2016.
Andrea Lee has made an impressive start to 2017 with a runner-up finish at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate. This has backed up a brilliant 2016 for Andrea where she made the quarter finals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, before losing out to the eventual winner, Eun-Jeong Seong on the final hole of their match. Later that summer, Lee began her first year at Stanford University and won on her debut, beating a top class field in the Windy City Collegiate. She then tied for second the week after at the Stanford Intercollegiate. She also represented the United States in the last year’s Curtis Cup and World Amateur Team Championship.
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion has already enjoyed tremendous success in her amateur career to date, despite only turning 18 in May last year. O’Sullivan spent part of 2016 at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking; thanks in large part to winning the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Hannah also won the Gateway Classic in 2015 on the Symetra Tour (the feeder tour to the LPGA) – the victory made her the youngest ever winner on the Symetra Tour at age 16 years, nine months and 11 days. She represented the United States in the 2016 Curtis Cup in Ireland and her other wins in 2015 included the Winn Grips Heather Farr Classic, Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Rolex Tournament of Champions. She played on winning U.S. teams in the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup and the 2015 Solheim Cup.
Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela, 18, is currently ranked 4th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and after a successful 2016 to back up a really impressive junior career that included victories at the 2015 Orange Bowl, Doral Public Junior Classic and the Spanish International Amateur Stroke play. She started 2016 by finishing runner-up in the Portuguese Ladies Amateur before excellent results on the Ladies European Tour. She was fifth in the Lalla Meryem Cup and fourth in the Tipsport Golf Masters. She played in three of last year’s Majors, making the cut in both the U.S. Women’s Open and the ANA Inspiration (where she was joint low amateur). Albane also competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing in a very credible tie for 21st. In September she began her college golf career at Stanford University.
Currently in her final year at the University of South Carolina, Katelyn Dambaugh has enjoyed an extremely successful College career to date with 2015/16 proving to be the best yet, with a number of accolades coming her way, including: First-Team All-American from the Women's Golf Coaches Association, First-Team All-SEC and Runner-Up for the ANNIKA Award. Katelyn also claimed her first college victory in 2016 when she won the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Championship. She holds a number of records for USC including: career scoring average with 72.96 per round, single-season scoring average of 71.62 in 2015-16, and all-time freshman scoring average of 73.70 in 2013-14. Currently sitting in 7th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Katleyn will be enjoying her Major Championship debut at this year’s ANA Inspiration.