The LPGA’s most iconic major championship, the ANA Inspiration, is continuing its tradition of inspiring women’s golf by naming Kenedee Peters of Ephrata, Wash. as one of the elite junior golfers who will be given the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to earn a spot in golf’s first major of 2016. The ANA Inspiration will be held March 31-April 3 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Peters was named the 2015 WSGA Junior Girls’ Player of the Year after winning the Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA) State Championship, the WIAA 2A High School State Championship, and qualifying for the 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior and IMG Academy Junior Worlds. The WJGA was instrumental in instigating this opportunity for Peters.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, special invites have been extended to 10 golfing hopefuls from across North America, including Peters, who will compete in a field of junior players at the newly-named ANA Junior Inspiration on Monday, March 28 at Mission Hills CC. The winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration will win the right to tee off in the first round of the 2016 ANA Inspiration alongside the greatest women players in the world.
For the last four years the historic major championship offered the last place in the tournament starting field to the winner of an 18-hole competition featuring top junior golfers from California. However, as part of its efforts to grow the future of women’s golf throughout the country and take the game to new heights, title sponsor ANA, working alongside the Southern California Golf Association, have opened up the junior field to now include elite players from across North America.
Speaking on the news of her selection, Peters said, “I really can’t believe I’m actually going to Mission Hills with ANA. It’s really exciting to get the message from Brittany (Lincicome, defending champion). I am honored to be invited to represent the state of Washington at the ANA Junior Inspiration. It is very exciting to have the opportunity to compete against a great field for the dream of winning and playing in an LPGA event. I would like to thank the sponsor All Nippon Airways and the Southern California Golf Association for the invitation.”
After sending Kenedee a personal video message of congratulations, filmed alongside ANA’s ‘dream ticket’ from Seattle to Rancho Mirage, Lincicome said, “Congratulations to Kenedee. There is quite simply nothing like this, no other major in men’s or women’s golf that offers such an opportunity. I’m sure she’ll love every moment.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to Mission Hills to defend my title and meet Kenedee as part of the new generation of brilliant young players from across the country. Who knows, maybe Kenedee will follow my footsteps and leap into Poppie’s Pond one day! I wish her the best of luck for the tournament.”
The special selections for the ANA Junior Inspiration were made by the ANA Inspiration tournament committee and junior golf associations connected with each North American ANA gateway city. These young women now have the opportunity to succeed 2015 ANA Champions Junior Challenge champion, 16-year-old Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif., who shot a 67 to win. Moore not only achieved the dream of many of these skilled juniors to play in an LPGA major championship, but also impressively made the cut in the ANA Inspiration and finished T67.
“We’re excited to give Kenedee this opportunity and can’t wait to meet her at our tournament,” said Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA. “Regardless of score or results for any of the players, including Kenedee, we hope they are left inspired by the experience. Our goal when expanding the ANA Junior Inspiration to all of our North American gateway cities is to create inspired memories for each of these elite junior golfers as they grow in their careers.”
The announcement of the newly-expanded ANA Junior Inspiration is just one in a series of many game-changing initiatives that ANA is introducing to the ANA Inspiration to help further the future of women’s golf. The official 2016 tournament launch also announced the first-ever ANA Inspiring Women in Sports Conference, set to take place on Tuesday, March 29, overlooking the 18th green and Poppie’s Pond of the famed Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills.
Female sporting icons Missy Franklin, Annika Sorenstam, Lindsey Vonn, Abby Wambach and Kristi Yamaguchi will headline the inaugural conference, which will include a series of panels and discussions about the state of women’s sports, female athletes as role models, using sports as a platform to inspire women of all ages, and what it takes to be a champion. Swimmer Jessica Long will also share her inspiring story of overcoming a double leg amputation at 18 months old to become one of the most decorated Paralympians in history.
Gabe Codding, ANA Inspiration Tournament Director said, “To picture Kenedee, a future star of women’s golf, sharing in the unique atmosphere of the ANA Inspiration while getting a taste of what major championship golf feels like and living her dream alongside some of the best players in the country is going to be very special. It could literally be life changing.
“I’d like to thank the Washington Junior Golf Association and the Southern California Golf Association for instigating the opportunity for Kenedee. In ANA we have a committed partner that really believes in supporting the future of golf. The ANA Junior Inspiration is the brilliant result of bringing these two like-minded partners together and we can’t wait for the tournament to begin.”