Usually, the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration is the year’s first major professional golf tournament.
Not in 2020, though.
The storied March tournament instead became one of the first high-profile sporting events to be postponed or canceled because of COVID-19.
The re-scheduled 49th edition of the ANA will take place September 10-13 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.
It will still be the first women’s major here in the US in 2020, but it will be very unlike its usual self in one key respect: no spectators will be permitted on the Mission Hills grounds.
How will a spectator-less early autumn ANA differ for the players? Palm Springs Life spoke with Georgia Hall, the 2018 Women’s British Open champion, who finished tied for 61st at the 2019 ANA Inspiration.
The English-born Hall, who was awarded an MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in December 2019, had just finished competing in Scotland when we caught up with her.
From Scotland today to the Coachella Valley in a couple of weeks, what will your travel and playing/practice regime be in advance of the ANA Inspiration?
I came over to the U.S.on the LPGA’s charter flight on Aug. 24th from Scotland and will be playing in (this weekend's) Walmart NW Arkansas Championship before going to stay with my Solheim Cup teammate Bronte Law, where we will practice and train together and get ready for our second major of the year in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FACEBOOK
Georgia Hall shows off her Women's British Open trophy in 2018.
What has been your reaction to the LPGA’s “new normal”? Has COVID directly impacted you, your family, your team?
The weirdest thing has been playing without fans – especially the last two tournaments in Scotland, where I would usually have so much support from the home fans. But apart from that, I think, like everyone else, I have adjusted to the “new normal” – it’s not just at golf tournaments but everywhere, from going into shops to all the precautions that we now need to take in everyday life. I am just happy that the LPGA has found a way to get us back out playing as I had really missed competing. Lots of thought and hard work has gone into getting us back out there and I think we need to be very thankful to all our sponsors for continuing to support our Tour during this difficult time.
Any particular aspects of the ANA Inspiration that you’re looking forward to?
The ANA Inspiration is definitely one of my favorite events in the U.S. I just feel so comfortable there and look forward to playing in it every year. I am so glad they found a way to re-schedule it after it got postponed in March. I do really like the course and love the whole vibe of the event. There is a real sense of history to the tournament as well which is really nice. I think it’s because it’s been played at the same venue for so many years and the winner getting to jump into Poppie’s Pond is obviously a really special, unique tradition.
Finally, are you looking forward to some September-in-the-desert weather? Is it a climate that appeals to you?
I do love the sunshine and the beautiful, consistently lovely weather there, but I know it is going to be hotter at this time of year so I will be careful to keep really well hydrated when I am out there playing. We play in really hot conditions at events such as the HSBC Women’s Championship in Singapore, which I do enjoy but that is a far more humid heat. I think I will enjoy the dry heat we are expecting in Palm Springs even more.
For more information, visit anainspiration.com.