Tulips, the Easter Bunny, March Madness. All are synonymous with spring which also means the first LPGA major is here. The ANA Inspiration is taking place this week in Rancho Mirage, California. This is the only domestic major of the five on the schedule that has been played on the same course since its inception. The Dinah Shore course is a favorite of many and considered one of the best on tour. It’s quite long, has narrow fairways and frequently features challenging rough. Firm and fast greens are also an annual challenge – just what you’d expect for a major championship.
The tournament is very rich in history. It was founded in 1972 by a special lady, Dinah Shore, who was one of America’s most famous entertainers for many decades. Originally referred to as the Colgate-Dinah Shore, it was made a major championship about 10 years later when Nabisco became the title sponsor. The great tradition that began with Dinah’s involvement continues today under its name since 2015, the ANAInspiration. Players compete for the honor of jumping into the famous Poppie’s Pond (named after Terry Wilcox, the tournament director for many years, who was called “Poppie” by his grandchildren) on the side of the 18th green and, of course, a well-earned fluffy white robe to dry off.
I remember being so excited to play in this event every year. I have always felt that there’s a significant difference between regular and major events — while tournament winners are celebrated, major winners make history.
About six years ago, my team started discussions with both my longtime partner, Rolex, and the LPGA to create an award for just this reason. I could not be more thrilled to have established a way to acknowledge players who perform their best in the biggest events.
The Rolex ANNIKA Major Award (RAMA) recognizes the player who, during a current LPGA Tour season, has the most outstanding record in all five major championships. Points are awarded to competitors who finish among the top 10 and ties. To take home the RAMA, a player must also win at least one of the five majors. Michelle Wie, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko are our previous winners, each of whom was recognized in a special ceremony at the Evian Championship. As we enter our fourth year, tune in to the ANA Inspiration to begin to follow the 2017 RAMA race. If the last few years are any indication, the play will be exceptional and the drama unmatched!