RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif., Mar. 27, 2017 – Members of The Legends Tour recently paired up with some of the nation’s top juniors for a special event at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
As a part of the ANA Junior Inspiration event on Sunday, March 26, staged as an amateur qualifier for the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration major championship, a field of 20 Legends Tour members played alongside the 40 juniors who were competing in their opening round of the 54-hole junior tournament.
Legends Tour members competing in the event included past champions of the California major, as well as other major championship winners on the LPGA Tour.
LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member Betsy King carded the low score of 4-under 68 to win the Legends’ portion of the event, edging out runner-up Rosie Jones, who posted a round of 69. King finished with two birdies to edge out Jones, who was the clubhouse leader.
On the par-3 17th hole, King struck a 7-iron to 25 feet and drained the birdie putt. King used a middle wedge to land her approach shot to within five feet of the hole on the par-5 18th green and drained the birdie to win.
“I kind of surprised myself a little bit and played pretty well, with five birdies and one bogey,” said King, who won 34 LPGA tournaments, including six majors during her LPGA career. “I played in the major championship here for nearly 30 years and won it three times, so it was fun to get back out on the golf course.”
Prior to the current ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major championship of the season was staged as the Colgate-Dinah Shore, the Nabisco Dinah Shore, and as the Kraft Nabisco Championship. King won that event in 1987, 1990 and 1997.
And while Jones was disappointed not to win, she was excited about the quality of junior players in the amateur event.
“These juniors are the future of golf going forward for the next five, 10, 15 years,” she said. “Bridging the gap between the younger and older players today is extremely important, and also a lot of fun.”
Junior Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, Calif., won the sanctioned AJGA junior tournament. Li, who gained national attention in 2014 when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at age 11, played alongside Hall of Famer Pat Bradley in the joint event. Bradley won the major championship at Mission Hills in 1986.
“I had so much fun with Pat Bradley,” said Li, 14, who earned an amateur spot in the ANA Inspiration with a winning score of 3-under 213. “She made it so enjoyable and relaxing and I learned a lot from her.”
The LPGA has held a major championship at Mission Hills Country Club since 1972. Another three-time winner and Hall of Famer in last week’s special joint tournament was Amy Alcott, who won the championship in 1983, 1988 and 1991, and began the tradition of the winner leaping into the pond adjacent to the 18th green.
The LPGA’s 2017 ANA Inspiration will be held March 30 through April 2, and is the first of the LPGA’s five major championships held throughout the year. Six amateurs will also compete in the championship this week.
For more information about The Legends Tour, the official senior tour of the LPGA, visit www.thelegendstour.com.