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Women's golf takes spotlight at ANA Inspiration

Minjee Lee is aiming for her first major championship win this week in California.
One of the most anticipated events in the history of major championship golf, the 2018 Masters Tournament, is just eight days away but ahead of it, women’s golf takes centre stage this week for the opening major of their season at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage in California.

The ANA Inspiration may have undergone many name changes since its inception as a major in 1983 but the one factor it has in common with the Masters, other than beginning one gender's major season, is that it has had just the one home in its history.

With that comes the sort of stories that only such venue stability can offer.

Most recently of course was the debacle of the Lexi Thompson ruling 12 months ago when she was penalised four shots on Sunday for a ball-marking infringement 24 hours earlier. The gutting penalty served only to inspire Thompson who fought back to lose a playoff to So Yeon Ryu and eventually complete one of her best LPGA Tour seasons.

From an Australian perspective, the most notable moment in the event's history was Karrie Webb’s reaction to holing out from 116 yards at the 72nd hole in 2006 to force a playoff before winning her 7th major championship title.



Ariya Jutanugarn has won only one major amongst her seven LPGA Tour titles but there has been enough evidence of late to suggest she could add another this week.

She has four top tens in seven starts this year and several very good finishes in this event.

Inbee Park is a former winner of this event and she too is in very good form of late. She played well over the final 36 holes last weekend at the Kia Classic and this appears a good chance to add another major to her already remarkable record at the elite level.

Defending champion Ryu appears below the level she was playing at when successful in a controversial finish last year. In addition to her win last year she has also finished runner-up several years ago which indicates the layout suits her game.

Like Ryu, Lexi Thompson has recently been below the outstanding level she is capable of but she has one of the best ANA records of any in this week's field and she could easily turn things around.

Minjee Lee - Australia's leading chance in 2018

The Australians in the field are headed by Minjee Lee who finished just one shot out of the playoff last year and in just four starts in 2018 she has been three times inside the top six. This would appear to represent a very good chance for the 21-year-old West Australian to win her first major title.

Lee's fellow countrywomen to tee it up are Katherine Kirk, Sarah Jane Smith, Su Oh and Hannah Green who plays her very first major championship. 



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