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Five things to know about the biggest stars in the game as we approach ANA Inspiration

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif .– With eight of the world’s top 10 players finishing in the top 10 in last week’s Kia Classic, the first major major of the year is expected to be an absolute thriller. Players say they’ve never seen Mission Hill’s Dinah Shore tournament course in such pristine condition. It’s firm and fast and getting hotter here in the desert.

Here are five things to know as you approach the 1950s.e ANA inspiration:

1. Inbee Park climbed to number two in the world this week. She was ranked No.1 or No.2 for 22% of her LPGA career. After running away with last week’s Kia Classic, his 21st Victory of the LPGA, the seven-time big winner becomes this week a big favorite.

Park first rose to world No. 1 on April 15, 2013, the week after winning the ANA (then known as Kraft Nabisco) and spent a total of 106 weeks there. Would a fifth section at the top, at 32, have a different meaning?

“I think that would mean a lot because I kind of thought that, would I be No. 1 again?” Park said. “I had been asking myself the same question for a few years.

“Being able to do it again would obviously mean a lot, that I can still compete here. To be the best player in the world for a long time is good confidence. “

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When asked about the secret to her longevity, Park pointed directly at her husband, GH Nam, who also serves as a swing trainer. His presence on tour week after week not only gives Park a sense of home and comfort on the road, but it helps him not fall into bad habits with his swing.

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“My swing is probably a little easier on my body, like not swinging so hard,” Park said. “The pace is not too fast. So maybe that’s the key to consistency. I do not know.”

Lexi Thompson during the 2019 ANA Inspiration Round 1 at Dinah Shore at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman / Getty Images)

2. Lexi Thompson started working with Martin Hall, Long-time Morgan Pressel swing instructor and Golf Channel’s School of Golf host. Thompson said she had seen him two or three times now.

“Just keep it simple,” said Thompson, “but at the same time try to improve small things.”

Statistics guru Justin Ray tweeted that Thompson was a combined par 49 under the past five years at ANA, 13 strokes ahead of closest competitor Ariya Jutanugarn. And yet, Thompson’s only major title came before that at the 2014 ANA. She has had five top-7s since then.

“I’ve worked hard on my mental game and I’m more relaxed, and I hope that helps me more than anything,” said Thompson.

“I know I have been working my whole game physically and so letting go and letting my true talent show is what I want. You know, if it turns out to be a victory, so much the better. Otherwise, I will continue to work.

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3. Brooke Henderson went left-low from the 10-foot interior to last week’s Kia Classic, where it was tied for 10e. Henderson said she felt comfortable with the big change and would continue with it.

Henderson’s father Dave is also his trainer and usually travels a bit with his wife, following their two daughters. However, with COVID-19, Henderson’s parents remained in Canada. The last time Dave was at a tournament was in January 2020.

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“He’s still there, like virtually,” said Henderson, who lost in the ANA playoffs last year to Mirim Lee, “always helping us out and sending us his notes that he has on every round. and FaceTiming and all. So it was OK. I really regret having him and my mom here to show their support and help out on the course.

LPGA: ANA Inspiration - Final round

LPGA: ANA Inspiration – Final round

Jin Young Ko greets fans after winning 2019 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills CC – Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jin Young Ko put a new driver on the line for the second round of the Kia Classic last week. Ko had used a Callaway model for the past three years but switched to the Titleist TS3.

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While Ko, ranked No.1, did not participate in the ANA last September, choosing instead to stay in South Korea due to the pandemic, she trained in Mission Hills in the weeks that followed. the swing of the Florida tour. She was thrilled to see her name on the Champions March.

“I’ve had a good practice the last three days at Mission Hills,” Ko said, “so I can’t wait until tomorrow and the next four days.”

5. Danielle Kang will team up with her mentor, Annika Sorenstam, for a charity game Wednesday in Mission Hills. Sorenstam isn’t the only former Kang No.1 to lean on. The American base of Inbee Park is in Las Vegas, where Kang settles in her home.

“I don’t think a lot of people know that she is literally like my older sister, my adoptive mother,” Kang said. “I joke that I am an adopted child of her and her husband. They feed me, they drive me, they buy me ice cream. She’s been there for me through the thick and the thin. You know, supported me from the start.

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“And whether it was when I got up to world No. 2 – it was a really weird feeling to be world No. 2, and she was the only player to call me like, is one of the main people to call me and say, “Let’s go to 1, we can do this, all of that.” “

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