RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – If Pernilla Lindberg picks up where she left off winning the ANA Inspiration last year, she won’t see the challenges that new tee boxes, thicker rough and firmer greens create this week.
She’ll just see a bunch of great putts going in again.
Lindberg was unstoppable breaking through to make her first LPGA title a major championship last year, defeating Hall of Famer Inbee Park in an eight-hole playoff. She liked the vibes she felt returning in her practice rounds at Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore Course this week.
“I was rolling the putts, and just seeing how well they roll on these greens brought back some really good memories,” she said. “That’s my favorite thing about this golf course, how well the greens are rolling.”
The course should be playing tougher this year, with three new teeing areas lengthening the test, with fairways narrowed, the rough thicker and the greens firmer.
“We upped our fertility program, and we had a wetter, cooler winter,” said Jared Taylor, the course superintendent. “It made the rough thicker and lusher.”
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The rough was topped off at 3 ½ inches on Wednesday. Taylor said it was about the same length at the tournament’s finish a year ago, but it wasn’t as thick last year.
Taylor said the fairways were also made about five feet tighter this year. He also said the greens will play firmer than they did a year ago, with more bounce to them.
“It’s probably one of the tougher conditions we’ve had the last five years or so,” Inbee Park said.
The tees at the par-4 third were moved back 15 yards, giving it a scorecard yardage of 435 yards. The tees at the par-4 fourth were moved back 35 yards, to 418 yards, and the tees at the par-4 15th were moved back 20 yards, to 405 yards.
Overall, the course will play to a scorecard yardage of 6,834 yards, compared to 6,763 a year ago.
“I think it favors a ball striker more than a bomber, if it’s firm,” Stacy Lewis said. “That’s why I like seeing it the way it is so far.”