RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA, March 23, 2016 – Defending champion Brittany Lincicome will headline a field of the LPGA’s biggest stars at the 45th annual ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club next week. The LPGA’s most iconic major championship will feature 110 of the world’s best golfers, including the top 15 players on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
Last year, Lincicome made eagle on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Stacy Lewis before winning with a par on the third hole of sudden death. It was the second major championship win and second ANA Inspiration win for the Florida native, who made her first leap into Poppie’s Pond in 2009.
“The course sets up perfectly for me and I can’t wait to get back and relive some many special memories,” said Lincicome. “Even if I had never won the ANA Inspiration, this tournament would be special to me. I can say it’s my favorite championship we play. For me, it’s the spiritual home for the LPGA and has so much history and now I’m part of the history.”
Commitments to the ANA Inspiration field are closed, however the field remains preliminary and subject to change based on the LPGA Official Money List at the conclusion of the Kia Classic.
Lincicome and Lewis (2011) are two of nine past champions of the event returning to Rancho Mirage with their eyes on the Dinah Shore trophy and traditional Imabari champion’s robe. Other past winners in the field at Mission Hills include World No. 3 Lexi Thompson (2014), World No. 2 Inbee Park (2013), Sun-Young Yoo (2012), Yani Tseng (2010), Morgan Pressel (2007), Karrie Webb (2000, 2006), 2015 and 2017 U.S. Women’s Solheim Cup captain Juli Inkster (1984, 1989) and Amy Alcott (1983, 1988, 1991), the first to leap into Poppie’s Pond.
World No. 1 and 2015 Rolex Player of the Year Lydia Ko will make her fourth appearance at the ANA Inspiration with her sights set on winning a second-consecutive major championship. Last September, Ko became the youngest major winner in LPGA Tour history at the Evian Championship, where she carded a final-round 63.
2015 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Sei Young Kim will return to the ANA Inspiration this year after holding the 54-hole lead in 2015, before tying for fourth. Last week, she won the JTBC Founders Cup and tied the LPGA Tour record held by Annika Sorenstam for lowest four-round total in relation to par at 27-under.
“ANA first supported this historic tournament last year and we felt it couldn’t have gone any better. In Brittany we had a champion to be proud of. Players and all connected with the event felt the championship had experienced an upgrade whilst the tournament’s fine traditions were upheld,” said Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, All Nippon Airways. “This year we’re even more excited by what lies ahead with new traditions starting and a tournament line-up that now includes the ANA Junior Inspiration and the ANA Inspiring Women in Sport Conference for the first time.
“With these new initiatives as part of one of the most iconic golf events in the world and the starting point of major golf in 2016, an Olympic year, we believe the game has the potential to reach new heights. We’re absolutely thrilled that the best players in the world will start on their own inspired journey for major success at the ANA Inspiration.”
Other top-ranked players in the field at the ANA Inspiration include World No. 6 Ha Na Jang, winner of the Coates Golf Championship and HSBC Women’s Champions this season; Canadian star and World No. 8 Brooke Henderson, who tied for 26th as an amateur in 2014; and Cristie Kerr, the all-time leading American money winner in LPGA history.
Six amateurs have accepted invitations to play in the ANA Inspiration, including 2015 U.S. Amateur Championship winner Hannah O’Sullivan, Sierra Brooks, Karen Chung, Bronte Law, Leona Maguire and Albane Valenzuela.
The newly named ANA Junior Inspiration will tee off on Monday, March 28 with the winner receiving the final amateur exemption into the tournament field. This year, with the assistance of the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA), title sponsor ANA worked to expand invitations for the Junior Inspiration field to amateurs in key gateway cities for the airline.
The world’s best golfers will not be the only champion female athletes at this year’s ANA Inspiration, as Missy Franklin, Jessica Long, Julie Foudy, Lindsey Vonn, Abby Wambach and Kristie Yamaguchi will headline the first-ever ANA Inspiring Women in Sports Conference, slated for Tuesday, March 29 at Mission Hills Country Club.