|Jin Young Ko||+900
|Hyo Joo Kim||+1200
|Sei Young Kim||+2000
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Jin Young Ko is the outright pick, each way at +1000 with bet365
Charley Hull can land a top 10 at +500 with DraftKings Sportsbook
Back Stacy Lewis to beat Ariya Jutanugarn in their match bet at +100 with bet365
Jin Young Ko each way in the outright +1000 with bet365
Charley Hull to make the top 10 +500 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Stacy Lewis over Ariya Jutanugarn +100 at bet365
|The ANA Inspiration Information|
|What||The ANA Inspiration|
|Where||Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage|
|When||Thursday, April 1 – Sunday, April 4|
|How to watch||Thursday & Friday 12pm & 7pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday & Sunday 5pm ET (Golf Channel). And on Sky Sports.|
The Masters might be the men’s first major championship of the year, but the actual first major of every (normal) year is this one – the LPGA’s ANA Inspiration, and in many ways, it has much in common with the annual visit to Augusta National. Admittedly, the history is not so deep – it was first held in 1972 and only became a major in 1982 – but in three distinct senses, there are similarities.
Firstly, it is always held on the same course which creates a familiarity with the test for golfers and spectators alike.
The second is quirky tradition: the Masters champion wins a Green Jacket, the ANA Inspiration winner leaps into Poppy’s Pond by the 18th green and then emerges wrapped in a dressing gown.
The third element is drama because, just like Augusta’s back nine on Sunday, the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills seems to produce endless excitement.
The par-5 18th hole has seen most of it, including Karrie Webb holing out from the fairway for an eagle-3 that confirmed her victory in 2006 and Brittany Lincicome also winning thanks to an eagle-3 there that was very nearly an albatross-2. The hole will again be the focus of attention because the lack of a grandstand behind the island green (a consequence of Covid rules) has produced an oddball dilemma.
In last year’s tournament, held in September, officials constructed a wall to replicate the bleachers, but in actual fact, they created a huge backstop which just about everyone hated. So this year the island green has no protection and approach shots will possess more peril than they have since the very early days of the event.
Inbee Park leads the betting, based on her impressive victory last week in the Kia Classic and the fact she is a past winner of the tournament.
Back in 2015 Korea’s Jin Young Ko turned up for the Women’s British Open as something of a mystery and very nearly won the tournament. Her performance was sensational and she seemed set to be a new star of the game, but for the next two years, we saw very little of her.
That changed in 2018 with consistent performances on the LPGA and by the following year she was fulfilling the promise of 2015. She won four times that season, two of them in major championships, and she also rose to the top of the world rankings.
What always impresses is not the neatness of her game, but the strength of her mind. Plenty of players claim to have the ability to take every shot as it comes, but Ko seems genuinely able to do this and it’s a wonderful advantage when faced with major championship tests.
Initially, she had problems with this event, failing to make an impression in her early visits, but she got to grips with the tee-to-green examination in 2018 (ranking fifth for Greens in Regulation) and then lifted the trophy in 2019.
She has two wins, tied second and solo third from her last six major starts and that makes her worth backing each-way at +1000 with bet365.
Some golfers enjoy the Missions Hills test, others hate it. Charley Hull is different again: she loves it.
“It’s a ball-strikers course,” she said two years ago. “It’s so much fun. It’s a proper golf course.”
She first played it as a raw amateur teenager and even then posted a fine third-round 68. But since joining the professional ranks, she’s never finished worse than T26th and completed three top 10s in six starts.
Last week she got off to a slow start, lying T100th after 18 holes before racing home for T33rd.
That improving form, and the superb course record makes her quote of +500 for a top 10 at DraftKings Sportsbook well worth backing.
In the last two calendar years, the fortunes of Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn have traveled in opposite directions. Jutanugarn, the former World No. 1, has lost form and confidence, while two-time major winner Lewis has returned from giving birth in some style.
In tournaments where both were competing, Lewis leads the head-to-head count 9-4 since the start of 2020.
Nor is the picture a pretty one for the Thai player when the match-up is tallied at Mission Hills: Lewis leads 5-3.
What about in California as a whole? Still no good news for Jutanugarn because Lewis leads that one 14-8.
It’s glum news whichever way you look at it and makes the idea of backing the American as the outsider a very attractive one.
She’s +100 with bet365 to maintain the dominance.
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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