RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. - The first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, today announced four amateur standouts who have been awarded the coveted special Championship invitations for the 2019 ANA Inspiration, April 4-7.
The four rising stars are:
Sweden’s Frida Kinhult, an outstanding freshman at Florida State University and currently ranked No.2 on the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR.) She led Sweden to victory at the 2018 European Ladies Team Championship where she also won the Stroke Play Championship.
Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, a sophomore at UCLA and currently ranked No.3 on the WAGR, qualified for the field in her own right as the low amateur at the 2018 US Open, finishing tied fifth and securing her place in the field at this year’s opening major.
Switzerland’s top ranked amateur, Albane Valenzuela, a junior at Stanford University ranked No.6 on the WAGR. She finished a credible 59th at last year’s ANA Inspiration and 24th at the 2018 US Women’s Open.
American teenage star, Rachel Heck, a 17 year old junior from Memphis, who made the cut in her first two major outings and currently sits at No.11 on the WAGR. She notably hit the winning putt in the Junior Ryder Cup at Disneyland Paris last year.
The final amateur invitation spot will go to the winner of this year’s prestigious ANA Junior Inspiration, an AJGA sanctioned 54-hole invitational that takes place the weekend prior to the ANA Inspiration. The field is made up of 48 of the best juniors from around the world who qualify through the new ANA Priority Mileage Points system.
These talented amateurs will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of so many of the current world’s best players who all started their major careers with the invaluable experience of being an amateur invites at the ANA Inspiration. The former invitees list reads like a Who’s Who of Women’s Golf and includes the likes of Michelle Wie, Georgia Hall, Lydia Ko, Angel Yin, Minjee Lee, Brooke Henderson Su Hyun Oh and Nelly Korda.
Rachel Heck commented: "I am so excited, and I can't wait to get to Rancho Mirage! Thanks so much to the ANA Inspiration Championship Committee for awarding me this invite. This major has so much history, and I am honored to be following in the footsteps of my role models who also played in the ANA Inspiration on amateur invites when they were starting out. It is such an amazing opportunity and pretty inspiring to be playing among the world's best professionals."
Georgia Hall, winner of the 2019 Ricoh Women’s British Open added: “It is hard to put into words just how valuable it was for me to be able to gain major championship experience while I was still an amateur. Congratulations to all the amateurs who will be making their debut at the ANA Inspiration this year, I almost envy them starting out and getting to experience such a magical major for the very first time.”