Twenty-four inspirational leaders to provide guidance to ANA Junior Inspiration field
RANCHO MIRAGE, California, March 22, 2019 – Forty-eight of the world’s most talented junior golfers will compete alongside a storied field of 24 LPGA Legends announced for the 2019 ANA Junior Inspiration.
The 54-hole junior tournament will be hosted from March 28-31, 2019, at Mission Hills Country Club and features a unique format. The ANA Junior Inspiration, organized in partnership between the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), will first challenge the invitation-only AJGA golfers over 36 holes on the Pete Dye Challenge Course. During the final round, juniors will compete on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course alongside the LPGA Legends for a dream ticket to earn the final amateur exemption into the LPGA’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration. Each final-round pairing will feature one LPGA Legend and two junior golfers. Juniors will compete for an overall stroke-play title as well as participate in a fun competition among groups in a best-ball format with the Legends.
Headlined by LPGA Hall of Famers Betsy King and Amy Alcott, the 2019 ANA Junior Inspiration field of LPGA Legends features 11 ANA Inspiration champions (who account for 15 of the event’s wins) and represents 318 total LPGA victories. Twenty of the 24 competitors from the 2018 field return including Best Ball winner Liselotte Neumann.
King, 2017 Legends Best Ball champion, and Alcott both won the ANA Inspiration three times in their careers (King: 1987, 1990 and 1997; Alcott: 1983, 1988 and 1991). Alcott also became the first tournament winner to leap into Poppie’s Pond adjacent to the 18th green at Mission Hills – starting a tradition that continues today at both the junior and professional tournaments.
As a part of the LPGA Legends field dynamic, junior golfers can learn from and be mentored by the women who paved the way for their current success, including a few who’ve been exactly in their shoes. Four LPGA Legends are also former AJGA Rolex Junior All-Americans: Pat Hurst, Wendy Ward, Jenny Lidback and Laurie Rinker. Hurst hosted an AJGA event in California from 2009-2011. Lidback, a four-time first-teamer and the 1981 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, was a two-time winner of the now-named AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic. She defeated Rinker 2-up in 1978 for her first title in match play.
“I truly mean it when I say the ANA Junior Inspiration is one of my favorite tournaments ever,” Lidback said. “The two wonderful young ladies that I played with last year were amazing (Ching-Tzu Chen & Yuka Saso). They were not only awesome players, but very impressive personally and they are both excited about going to college. What a great opportunity and experience, the AJGA and ANA Inspiration are giving the girls.”
About the ANA Junior Inspiration field
The field of AJGA junior golfers earned entry into the ANA Junior Inspiration through ANA Priority Mileage Points Standings, which are based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Top qualifiers from ANA’s 11 North American Gateway Cities of Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Vancouver and Washington D.C. will also compete. Each Gateway City Qualifier chose a state or local golf association to receive a Gateway City Grant on behalf of ANA. Since the event’s inception in 2017, $165,000 in ANA Gateway City Grants has funded 18 state and local golf organizations to help inspire young golfers and grow the sport.
The AJGA and ANA also extended invitations to seven international juniors from Belgium, China, England, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. In total, representatives from 11 foreign countries and 11 U.S. states are set to compete at one of the LPGA’s most iconic venues.
“We are excited to welcome 48 of the best junior golfers in North America and the world and offer them the opportunity to learn directly from 24 legendary LPGA stars at the ANA Junior Inspiration,” said Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA. “One of our main priorities in sponsoring the ANA Inspiration has been to elevate the ANA Junior Inspiration to provide opportunities for the juniors to leave them with memories that will last a lifetime and what better way to do so them to get them on the course for a round with an LPGA legend.”
The 2019 competition brings together one of the strongest fields in junior golf including defending 2018 ANA Junior Inspiration champion and current No. 1, Rose Zhang of Irvine, Calif. After her jump into Poppie’s Pond with LPGA Legend Patty Sheehan, Zhang made the cut in her professional debut. The three-time Rolex Junior All-American won twice more during the season, at The PING Invitational and Swinging Skirts AJGA Invitational, the latter of which helped the 15-year-old earn a second LPGA exemption in Taiwan. She also finished third at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and was runner-up at the Girls Junior PGA Championship.
Twenty-eight Rolex Junior All-Americans and 30 AJGA champions will compete at the 2019 ANA Junior Inspiration and 32 juniors in the field have committed to play college golf.
“Playing in the ANA Junior Inspiration is an incredible opportunity for the top female junior golfers in the world,” said AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “The AJGA is proud to continue its partnership with ANA to create a truly unique week that showcases the past, present and future of women’s golf. To compete for a major opportunity as a teenager, while also receiving mentorship from an LPGA Legend and impacting the next generation of girls, truly creates a legacy.”
Prior to its association with the AJGA in 2017, the ANA Junior Inspiration operated as an 18-hole qualifier for Southern California-based juniors to earn a spot into the major championship field. The Southern California Golf Association (SCGA), Fresh & Easy and ANA Inspiration champion Amy Alcott worked together to lay the foundation for this game-changing girls’ tournament.
Past champions of the ANA Junior Inspiration include an AJGA all-star cast: Angel Yin (2013), Lilia Vu (2014), Haley Moore (2015) 2014 Rolex Junior Player of the Year Andrea Lee (2016), Lucy Li (2017) and Zhang (2018).
2019 LPGA Legends Field
* Returning from 2018 field
# Returning from 2017 field
Amy Alcott of Santa Monica, Calif.*#
Janet Anderson #
Jane Blalock of Cambridge, Mass.*#
Pat Bradley of West Hyannisport, Mass.*#
Brandie Burton of LaVerne, Calif.*#
Donna Caponi of Orlando, Fla.*#
Jane Geddes of Orlando, Fla.*#
Sandra Haynie *#
Pat Hurst of Danville, Calif.*#
Christa Johnson of Tucson, Ariz.*
Cathy Johnson Forbes
Rosie Jones of Hilton Head, S.C.*#
Betsy King of Scottsdale, Ariz.*# (2017 best ball champion)
Jenny Lidback of Rio Verde, Ariz.*
Patricia Meunier-Lebouc of Jupiter, Fla.*
Liselotte Neumann of Rancho Mirage, Calif.*# (2018 best ball champion)
Sandra Palmer of Long Beach, Calif.*#
Laurie Rinker of Stuart, Fla.*
Patty Sheehan of Reno, Nev.*#
Hollis Stacy of Holmes Beach, Fla.*#
Jan Stephenson of New Port Richey, Calif.*
Wendy Ward of Spokane, Wash.*
For more information about the ANA Junior Inspiration, visit www.ANAjuniorinspiration.com.
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.
About the American Junior Golf Association
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 7,200 members from 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
TaylorMade and adidas are the AJGA’s National Sponsors, supporting the AJGA for more than 25 years. TaylorMade has served as the Official Ball of the AJGA since 2016. adidas has been the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA since 2017. Rolex, in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.
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