February 27, 2018
Fifteen-year-old American Lucy Li is one of six amateur invitations to the 2018 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club from March 26 – April 1.
Li, who rose to prominence at the age of eleven by becoming the youngest qualifier for the U.S Women’s Open, underlined her credentials last year by winning the 2017 ANA Junior Inspiration to not only earn her spot in the Championship field, but then go on to earn Low Amateur honors as the only amateur to make the cut.
Joining her in the elite group of amateurs is the 2017 U.S Amateur champion, 22-year-old American Sophia Shubert; the highest ranked invitee Lilia Vu, who sits at No. 2 on the Official World Amateur Golf Rankings; and World No. 5 Albane Valenzuela from Switzerland. Valenzuela makes her second appearance in the event having captured Low Amateur honors in 2016. She is Switzerland’s No. 1 ranked golfer and is the only amateur invitee to appear at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Rounding out the amateur invitations are Mexico’s No. 1, Maria Fassi, who will make her debut in Rancho Mirage, as well as the newly crowned Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Golf Championship inaugural winner, Atthaya Thitikul from Thailand, who lifted the trophy last week in Singapore. No stranger to success, Thitikul is the youngest-ever Ladies European Tour winner having won The Thailand Championship last summer aged 14.
The winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration, which will be contested at Mission Hills Country Club, March 23-25, will also receive a spot in the ANA Inspiration field with 48 players competing from 11 countries and 14 states including local star, Rose Zhang.
Commenting on the announcement, ANA Inspiration Executive Director Kevin Hopkins said, “We’re delighted to welcome some of the world’s best amateur golfers to Mission Hills Country Club for the 2018 ANA Inspiration and provide them with the opportunity to make history. Each of our invites has achieved on the highest stage in amateur golf and now they have the opportunity to test their skills against the best professionals in the world. They are following in the footsteps of some of the greatest champions including Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng and Lydia Ko, who all played this event before joining the pro ranks. We wish them the best of luck for the week.”
Mr. Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA said, “The ANA Inspiration provides a perfect runway for these young women to take off in their careers. In recent years countless past champions, hall of famers and current stars on the LPGA Tour have all stated that to have such an opportunity as an Amateur is simply priceless. The experience to compete in the first major of the year is unparalleled in the game of golf. It offers memories, connections and inspires for future success. Naturally, we are thrilled to see last year’s ANA Junior Inspiration winner Lucy Li on this year’s fantastic list of amateur exemptions, proving our support of junior golf is having a real impact. We look forward to seeing all of these great amateur players join us at the ANA Inspiration.”
Commenting on her return, Lucy Li, said, “I can’t wait to return to Mission Hills knowing that I’m already in the field to play in my second ANA Inspiration. Last year is definitely one of the highlights of my career and being able to play with Michelle Wie in the first two rounds was a dream come true. The course is always in perfect condition and it’s so fun playing in front of the big crowds, I can’t thank the tournament committee enough for giving me this opportunity.”