2019 ANA Inspiration champion Jin Young Ko will not defend her title this week at Mission Hills Country Club, opting to remain home in the Republic of Korea due to travel concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The ANA Inspiration will be forever dear to me as my very first LPGA major championship. Choosing to skip this year’s ANA was one of the most difficult decisions of my entire life. All year I had been looking forward to reliving so many special memories at Rancho Mirage and the opportunity to jump into Poppie’s Pond again,” said Ko. “Although I sadly will not be able to participate this year, I am encouraged by the successful tour restart and all the positive steps the LPGA is taking to make it as safe as possible. I want to thank the LPGA and all our tour sponsors, including ANA, for continuing to provide opportunities for players amidst this unprecedented crisis and look forward to getting back in the fray when international travel is deemed safe once again."
Ko has not teed it up on the LPGA Tour in 2020, last competing at the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship. She has played in three KLPGA Tour events over recent weeks, with a best finish of sixth at the Korea Women’s Open.
WORLD NO. 4 SUNG HYUN PARK MAKES RETURN TO LPGA TOUR
It’s major week in Rancho Mirage, and one player is using this week as her grand return to the LPGA Tour. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Sung Hyun Park is teeing it up for the first time on the LPGA Tour since the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship, where she withdrew due to a lingering shoulder injury. She used the break from playing as the perfect opportunity to let her shoulder recover, which she said is now fully healed.
“It's really been a while since I've been on the LPGA Tour. I think I'm more nervous than excited to be back. It's been a while since I've been in a competitive environment, and I've got to keep that in mind playing while the four rounds this week,” said Park, who played only one competitive event on the KLPGA Tour as well as a charity skins game against World No. 1 Jin Young Ko during the Tour’s hiatus.
Park’s gotten in her practice at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, and said she drank about seven or eight water bottles while playing 18 holes. As temperatures get over 100 degrees, she knows what challenges lay ahead of her. But the major champion isn’t trying to put too much pressure on herself in her 2020 debut.
“I don't hope to place too well in the first few tournaments of this year. I just hope to kind of get some momentum and play well in a competitive environment,” said Park. “There aren't that many tournaments this year, but I do hope to win at some point and finish the year on a high note.”