The Chevron Championship: The first Major Championship of 2022 and the final year at Missions Hills

Patty Tavatanakit defends the title she won in sensational style 12 months ago while the LPGA Tour bids farewell to an iconic venue.

A year on from celebrating its 50th anniversary The Chevron Championship (formerly the ANA Inspiration) is all set to say goodbye to its long-term home at the Missions Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

Found by the singer and TV personality Dinah Shore, the tournament has been an integral part of a spring break party scene, but all that will change from next year with the new sponsors taking the event to Texas.

It's the first of the year's five LPGA Majors and nips in ahead of the Masters as the first Major of the entire golfing season.

Let's take a closer look at the tournament and the leading contenders.

History

First played in 1972, the event has gone through plenty of titles, but roughly speaking it was known as The Dinah Shore until 1999, then the Kraft Nabisco Championship, before becoming the ANA Inspiration from 2015 to 2021. With new sponsors it has become The Chevron Championship. It will move to Texas after this year's farewell to Rancho Mirage.

It debuted as the richest event on the LPGA and gained Major status in 1983 when Amy Alcott claimed the first of three wins. She has been joined on that number by Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam. Juli Inkster, Dottie Pepper, Karrie Webb and Brittany Lincicome are two-time champions.

No American has won since Lincicome landed her second win in 2015. There have been six European victories, but no British or Irish player has yet won it.

Last year

Tavatakakit got off to a fast start and never relented. She carded a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday for a one shot lead, maintained it with a Friday 69, and a 67 on Saturday left her five clear of Ally Ewing and the defending champion Mirim Lee.

Lydia Ko carded a brilliant 62 on Sunday to set a clubhouse target which only Tavatanakit could better with a 68 for a two shot win, her first victory on the LPGA.

The course

Despite being a resort course, the Desmond Muirhead design tends to play relatively tough, although the field tends to score well (each of the last six champions reached double digits under-par).

The rough is lush and clingy, but if the fairways are found then the greens can be attacked. The final hole is a par-5 with an island green. It's traditional for the winner to take a leap into Poppy's Pond (which surrounds the 18th green) with caddie and family.

Leading contenders

Jin Young Ko

The World No. 1 had her struggles at first with the track, failing to break the top 60 in her first three visits, but she was the winner in 2019 and seventh last year. In sensational form in recent times, winning four times in her last six starts. Has six top seven finishes (including two wins) in her last nine Major starts.

Lydia Ko

A nine-time course start and yet to miss a weekend, the Kiwi was a winner in 2016, was sixth in 2020 and second last year. A two-time Major winner, her last victory coming back in 2016. Has explained that her strong ball-striking is an asset at the course, especially with reference to the firmness of the greens.

Minjee Lee

The ultra-consistent Aussie has landed seven top 30s in eight course appearances with two top 10s (third in 2017, seventh in 2020). Thrashed a brilliant final round 64 to win last year's Evian Championship, her first Major title.

Danielle Kang

Another steady learner at the course who landed her first top 20 in her eighth visit (2019) and has added another two since. Has a Major win (in 2017) but only another four top 10s in 52 starts.

Inbee Park

The deadly putter remains a top 10 machine in the Majors (35 of them in 65 starts) even though she hasn't claimed a win since landing her sixth in 2015. At Mission Hills, she has never missed a cut in 15 visits with eight top 12 finishes including victory in 2013.

Lexi Thompson

Another player yet to miss a weekend. She's 12-for-12 with six top 10s in her last eight starts and back in 2014 she claimed the win. Three years later she missed out in extra holes. She looked set to win last year's US Open, but endured a nightmare final round and slipped back into third. Says that just driving to the course puts her in a good mood and will want to make the most of the good vibes one last time.

Charley Hull

The Englishwoman is a big fan of the test, first playing it as a 16-year-old. Six of her last seven appearances have reaped top 15 finishes with a best of second in 2016. Will also be seeking to ride the Missions Hills wave for a final time.

Patty Tavatanakit

The last player to defend the title was Sorenstam in 2002. Tavatanakit was also something of a surprise in winning without ever really hinting she had an affinity for the course - most winners have played well there in the past.

READ MORE: The Chevron Championship: The most memorable moments from a half century of action at Missions Hills

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