The first round of the 2020 ANA Inspiration marked 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno’s competitive debut on American soil. Shibuno took the golf world by surprise when she won 2019’s final major in her first competition outside of her native Japan. Fast forward a year and Shibuno’s first round in the States was another success, a 2-under 70 that puts her tied for 19th heading into Friday’s second round.
“I was pretty nervous on the first tee, but after I hit the fairway with my tee shot, my second was perfect and then I made it, I was fine,” said Shibuno, nicknamed the Smiling Cinderella due to her ever-present grin. “It’s been a while since I made three good shots in a row. This made me confident out there.”
After disappointing missed cuts at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and the AIG Women’s Open, Shibuno spent the last two weeks in Los Angeles focusing on her putting, even changing her grip heading into this week’s major.
“I asked my coach if I should change it to a left-hand low grip and he said that’s a really good idea. So I practiced it the last couple of weeks in Los Angeles before I came here,” said Shibuno. “This was the first time to try it at a tournament and it really worked out for the green speeds and I had no three putts, which really helped too.”
KELLY TAN SIMPLY THANKFUL TO BE COMPETING ON MAJOR STAGE
Having played in every tournament since the LPGA Tour restart in July, Kelly Tan is just happy to be out on a golf course competing these days. That mentality led to a 4-under 68 on day one at the ANA Inspiration.
The lone Malaysia native on the LPGA Tour finished T20 at 2019 LPGA Q-Series presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to earn LPGA Tour Membership for 2020. Even though this season has played out differently than she originally thought it would, Tan has maintained a positive outlook.
“I’m just very grateful to be playing golf right now,” Tan said after recording seven birdies in Thursday’s first round. “I told myself that I'll take what this year gives me, try to play hard and see where that puts me. I didn't really have too many expectations on how many events I was going to get in, but I knew if I played well, I would play my way into the ANA Inspiration and major championships like this.”