When Dinah Shore created the ANA Inspiration in 1972, she thrust it into the spotlight with celebrity friends like Sinatra, Hope and Crosby. On Sunday, no outside help will be needed as LPGA standouts like Henderson, Korda and Thompson litter a star-studded leaderboard.
A five-month delay, the absence of fans and blistering summertime heat all faded into the California desert on Saturday, overwhelmed by three days of great golf that have made this a major championship well worth the wait.
When the winner takes her plunge into Poppie’s Pond under the watchful wave of Dinah’s statue it will be welcome relief from triple-digit heat and the end of a remarkable week of innovation and adaptability by players, sponsors, staff and volunteers.
But most off all, it will be the triumph of talent.
On Saturday, Rolex Rankings No. 9 Brooke Henderson, who went out in a record-tying 30, blistered the Championship Course at Mission Hills in 65 strokes, the low round of the week, to finish 54 holes at 12-under-par 204.
That put her in a tie going into the final round with Rolex No. 3 Nelly Korda, who was nearly flawless the first two days but showed a different kind of greatness of Saturday when she bounced back from a bogey and double bogey in a front-nine 38 to grind out a 71.
Two strokes back at 206 are 2014 ANA Inspiration winner Lexi Thompson, Katherine Kirk and Mirim Lee. Carlota Ciganda is at 207 with 2011 ANA champ Stacy Lewis at 208 as are Mel Reid, Maria Fernanda Torres and 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur champ Rose Zhang.
Talk about Inspiration!
“It was definitely a solid start to my day and after that, made a bunch of birdies,” Henderson said about kick-starting her round with an eagle on the par-5 second hole.
“Nice to make the turn