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Thursday, April 1, 2021

2 Reasons to Watch the ANA

And I think they're good reasons, too.

Defending champion Mirim Lee

A quick recap: The ANA Inspiration was delayed by the pandemic last year but not cancelled. It was played in September, and Mirim Lee won in a three-way playoff. So she won't keep the trophy for quite a year,

The first reason to watch is simply airtime. Because the ANA is played in California, on the West Coast of the US, their playing time runs well into prime time here on the East Coast. That means we get TWO windows of live golf today -- from noon to 4pm ET, and then again from 7-9pm ET. So we get some of the morning wave and some of the afternoon wave.

The second reason is a bit more fun. You may remember that Beth Ann Nichols wrote a Golfweek article a couple of weeks back saying that LPGA course setups were hindering scoring in a way that the men don't deal with, and she suggested making certain holes shorter to encourage scoring.

She's getting her wish. The ANA is going to shorten the par-5 18th in all four rounds to entice players to go for the island green in two... but there's a twist. The normal grandstands haven't been built, nor has the big blue wall from the last playing -- which I believe Nichols had dubbed 'The Great Wall of Dinah'. That means that the ball can easily roll into the water when it hits the firm green, which should make for some interesting decisions by the players.

If you saw the charity event on GC Wednesday night, you know what I mean. In this case, the sponsors got long drive champ Troy Mullins to hit drives for the two teams, and she put both teams down within 6-iron distance. Both Sophia Popov and Danielle Kang went for it and thought they hit perfect shots, only to watch both balls trickle off the back into the water. This is a problem that players used to face at the Dinah all the time, and it will make players think long and hard.

Yes, a true risk and reward hole!

So this ANA will have some extra excitement. This should be fun!

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