iSeekGolf's Bruce Young, Henry Peters and Rod Morri offer their selections of who they expect to contend at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
For the Win: Ariya Jutanugarn
The 22-year-old seems to be returning to the sort of form that has led her to the world number one ranking in the past. The 2016 Women's British Open champion has played this event well including an 8th and 4th in her last two appearances.
Top-10: Inbee Park
The 7-time major winner has a great record in this event including her win in 2013 and several other near misses. She won two starts ago and recorded a strong weekend last week at the Kia Classic.
Roughie: Anna Nordqvist
The Swede has regularly played well in this event with six top-20s in eight starts. A dual major winner, Nordqvist displayed improved form with a 7th placing last week at the Kia Classic.
For the Win: Lexi Thompson
Like Rod explains below, I think the thought of redressing last year's controversy will fuel the American's quest for a second ANA Inspiration title. Her form has waned recently since a T6 and T2 to start the year but class is permanent as they say and the long-hitting Thompson's track record at Mission Hills is impeccable.
Top-10: Jin Young Ko
The 22-year-old leads the LPGA Tour money list so far this year off the back of a win at the Women's Australian Open in Adelaide and three other top tens from her five starts on the US circuit. Her record at Mission Hills is not good with a T71 her best finish in two appearances, but she no doubt enters this week immeasurably more comfortable competing in the US than she was 12 months ago.
Roughie: Minjee Lee
Borderline above 'roughie' status, Minjee Lee has been a model of consistency in the early part of 2018 with three top-six finishes from only four LPGA Tour starts. The Western Australian is also comfortable at the ANA Inspiration's home; she only missed last year's playoff between So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson by one shot.
For the Win: Lexi Thompson
Aside from the motivation of overcoming last year's drama, the 23-year-old is a Mission Hills specialist. Like Augusta National and The Masters, the ANA being played at the same venue every year gives a superb insight into those players who simply love the layout and Thompson is top of the list. Her results the past four years read: Win, 7th, 5th and second. Hard to go past her.
Top-10: Brooke Henderson
One of the most exciting young players in a game seemingly overflowing with exciting young players. The Canadian is a terrific player, excellent role model and even better ambassador for the game but more importantly has shown good form at the course. In three appearances she's finished T26, T10 and T14. Expect better this week.
Roughie: Hye-Jin Choi
Somehow, this young lady keeps flying under the radar but that won't last. She was runner-up at last year's US Women's Open as an amateur and runner-up again at the Australian Women's Open last month as a professional. A former Australian Amateur champion, she's not afraid of the big moment and this is just the sort of stage where she is likely to shine. The only unknown is that this is her first appearance, hence 'Roughie' status.
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