Defending champion Pernilla Lindberg returned today to the scene of her greatest triumph at Mission Hills Country Club as she looks ahead to the 2019 ANA Inspiration, April 4 – 7.
Photo Credit: Gabe Roux
The Swede, who captured her first major championship last year in dramatic fashion after a gruelling eight-hole Monday play-off, started her title defense preparations by revisiting the famous ‘Dinah’s Walk of Champions’ as well as reacquainting herself with the testing par 72 layout, specifically the winning moment on the 10th green.
Aiming to re-create the 30ft birdie putt, which catapulted her into the Mission Hills history books, Pernilla took only four attempts before members of the media were given the opportunity to test their putting prowess and re-create the winning shot.
In less than a month’s time, Lindberg will defend her title against no fewer than 26 major champions, every major champion from the last five years and the world’s top three players, Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park and Minjee Lee.
Lindberg was joined on the day by a duo of champions including teen sensation Amari Avery and Kathy Kurata, the current Mission Hills Country Club Champion who got her title defense under way yesterday.
At just 15 years of age, Avery is no stranger to the limelight having broken a number of Tiger Woods’ age group records in the AJGA rankings as a 12 year old, and is set to make her second appearance in the ANA Inspiration Junior Inspiration, having finished fourth last season.
Kurata, on the other hand, is a veteran of the Palm Springs layout as not only the current club champion but also a recent recipient of the SCGA 2018 Senior Women’s Player of the Year award and winner of the SCGA Senior Women’s Amateur Championship.
Speaking ahead of her eighth appearance in the tournament, Pernilla Lindberg, said, “I had goosebumps walking alongside Poppie’s Pond for the first time since last year and remembering everything that happened on Sunday evening and the following day in the play-off. The fans were incredible watching us until it was dark and we could not believe how many came back the next day to watch us finish. This tournament will always be special to me and it has been exciting to come back a few weeks before I defend my title to enjoy the moment.”
Commenting on the day, Tournament Director Chris Garrett said, “It’s been incredible to have Pernilla back at Mission Hills Country Club to relive some of the historic moments of last year ahead of her title defense. She has proven to be a popular winner of the event in both the local community and world of golf and we are delighted to welcome her back. The tournament is the first major of the year and after the way it finished last season, we are expecting more fireworks with the strength of the field on show.”
Photo Credit: Gabe Roux
Looking forward to her return, Amari Avery, said, “I can’t wait to get started in the ANA Inspiration Junior Inspiration, it’s one of the tournaments I look forward to playing all season. Last year I was quite nervous at the start because of the thought of qualifying for my first major championship but it was an amazing learning experience and I picked up so much from Jane Blalock in the final round. She was incredible all day and really helped me relax and focus.”
In keeping with tournament tradition, past champions will be honored at milestone anniversaries of their victory with the below winners being celebrated at the champions dinner.
· 1979: Sandra Post (40 years)
· 1984 & 1989 : Juli Inkster (30 Years)
· 1992 & 1999 : Dottie Pepper (20 Years)
· 2009 & 2015: Brittany Lincicome (10 Years)
Ticket are on sale for the 2019 ANA Inspiration