February 28, 2017
All Nippon Airways gives leading junior golfers the opportunity of a lifetime with chance to land a starting place in the first major of the LPGA Season – the ANA Inspiration
Rancho Mirage, CALIFORNIA, February 27, 2017 – Forty of the most talented junior golfers from around the world have secured a dream ticket and the chance to compete in the opening LPGA major championship of the season, the ANA Inspiration held at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., March 27 – April 2, 2017.
The juniors have earned entry into the newly upgraded and expanded ANA Junior Inspiration tournament, an official American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Invitational. The 54-hole tournament will run from March 25-26, 2017 and will be hosted at the same country club venue as the iconic LPGA major tournament. The juniors will be paired with LPGA Legends during the final round on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. The 20 person Legend field will be comprised of past ANA Inspiration Champions and Major winners.
“As the title sponsor of the ANA Inspiration and the Official Airline of the LPGA our vision and ambition for expanding the ANA Junior Inspiration came from a desire to create the most exciting tournament in junior golf. For ANA, it is vital that our sponsorship leaves a lasting legacy and not only inspires the players of today but the future stars of tomorrow,” said Mr. Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA. “As Japan’s largest airline we are in the business of connecting people so we developed an event that would connect young players from around the world as they start their inspirational journey in the game. From the strength and depth of the diverse group of players who will descend upon Rancho Mirage next month our vision is becoming a reality.”
The ANA Junior Inspiration features top talent from around the world as players qualified through the “ANA Priority Mileage” point system based on the AJGA Rankings, with 11 spots given to the top qualifiers in ANA’s gateway cities. The 2017 tournament brings together arguably one of the strongest fields in female junior golf as eight of the top 10 girls in the AJGA Rankings will compete in the tournament, including reigning AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year and current No. 1 Paphangkorn Tavatanakit. Twenty-four players in the ANA Junior Inspiration field are current Rolex Junior All-Americans, 27 have earned AJGA wins and 16 have given written or verbal commitment to play college golf.
“The AJGA is excited about the top-level talent competing at the ANA Junior Inspiration,” said AJGA Chief Business Officer Jason Etzen. “The event not only allows our players to get an LPGA Tour experience and chance to earn entry into a major, but also sets them up for success for the rest of their junior golf careers and beyond.”
This year, thanks to the support of ANA and a partnership with the AJGA, the best young female golfers representing 14 U.S. states, Canada, China, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand will compete in this one-of-a-kind tournament (see below for full field).
LPGA legend and three-time ANA Inspiration champion Annika Sorenstam said, “If I was a junior golfer competing now, this type of event and opportunity would definitely inspire me. Mission Hills Country Club is a very special place. I know what it’s like to win there, but just getting a chance to sample the tournament atmosphere will have powerful impact on the careers of these young players. Many of the qualifiers took part in my recent AJGA ANNIKA Invitational tournament in Orlando and they’re already excited at the prospect of competing.”
“ANA has done so much for the ANA Inspiration in a short two and a half years. However, their desire was not to rest on that, but also inspire that next generation. The commitment to expand an event like the ANA Junior Inspiration brings our shared vision to life. To be able to honor our history while impacting our youth is the perfect way to formally kick off the ANA Inspiration each year. I’m so proud of the collective team work in making this happen,” said ANA Inspiration Tournament Director Gabe Codding.