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New twist for this year's ANA Inspiration – no amateurs


The field at the 50th anniversary of the ANA Inspiration certainly won’t feel like old times with one key component missing – the amateurs.

Last year, two amateurs finished in the top 15 at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course: Rose Zhang (T-11) and Gabriela Ruffels (T-15). Three more – Lei Ye, Emilia Migliaccio and Olivia Mehaffey – made the cut.

This year, only Zhang, the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, and Aline Krauter, who won the British Women’s Amateur, were invited to the year’s first major.

Both instead are confirmed to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, held the same week as the ANA from March 31-April 3.

Zhang, 17, tied for 17th at the ANWA in 2019. The Stanford signee is currently No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Krauter, 21, a junior at Stanford, will make her debut at the ANWA this spring.

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“The ANA Inspiration has a long history of celebrating the world’s top amateur competitors and providing them with the opportunity to compete in a major championship,” LPGA Chief Tour Operations Officer Heather Daly-Donofrio said in a statement provided to Golfweek.

“To broaden competition opportunities for LPGA Tour members as we continue to deal with COVID-19 and to ensure a manageable field size, the 2021 tournament has limited invitations to the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur and British Women’s Amateur champions.”

When asked if the tournament would return to its tradition of inviting up to seven amateurs in the future, a tour official said they would continue to adjust moving forward as the pandemic requires.

Since the ANWA was first announced in 2018, there have been calls for the LPGA to move the ANA Inspiration’s dates to avoid having two heavy-hitting women’s events compete for coverage as well as forcing top-ranked amateurs to make a difficult decision.

Gabriela Ruffels plays a tee shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the ANA Inspiration on the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club on September 11, 2020 in Rancho Mirage, California. On Wednesday, Ruffels announced that she’s turning pro. (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The 2020 ANWA was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s ANA, won by Mirim Lee, was held in September.

Zhang’s final score of 280 in blistering desert heat set a record for amateurs at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills. Ruffels’ 281 matched the previous mark set by Caroline Keggi (1988) and Michelle Wie (2004).

Both Wie and Keggi hold the record for lowest finish by an amateur at the ANA, a tie for fourth.

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