RTL Today – Golf: Players looking for a final jump at the Chevron Championship

A half-century of golf history will come to a close on Thursday as the Chevron Championship kicks off in the California desert for the last time.

The first women’s major of 2022 will also be the last ever at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, which has hosted the tournament in various guises since the inaugural event in 1972.

Previously known as the Nabisco Championship, Kraft Nabisco Championship and more recently ANA Inspiration, to many the tournament is known simply as “The Dinah Shore” after the beloved actress and singer who played a key role in founding the event.

It’s a bittersweet farewell for many golf traditionalists, even though there are solid financial reasons for uprooting the event to its new home in Houston in 2023.

The renaming as the Chevron Championship has resulted in a big increase in prize money, from $3.1 million in 2021 to $5 million in total this year.

The 2023 event is also expected to be staged later in the year to bring it out of the Masters’ shadow in Augusta.

Holding it later in the year and staying in Mission Hills was deemed impractical due to rapidly rising temperatures in the California desert.

So that means this week’s winner will be the last to enjoy the tradition of taking a refreshing dip in “Poppie’s Pond”, the affectionate nickname of the six-foot deep water hazard that guards the 18th green in Mission Hills. .

Lexi Thompson, the 2014 champion, admitted this week’s farewell to the venue was tinged with sadness.

“What’s so amazing is the story behind this tournament,” Thompson said Tuesday.

“Jump into Poppie’s Pond’s, put the dress on the 18th green, just the lore and history behind it all.

“It’s a real shame that he’s moving from this special venue. I think we’re all a bit disappointed about that, but at the same time we’re not losing the event, we’re just losing the venue.”

– ‘Bittersweet goodbye’ –

Defending champion Patty Tavatanakit also admitted she was sad to see the event leave California while acknowledging the financial impact of Chevron’s sponsorship.

“It’s a bittersweet goodbye, I guess,” the 22-year-old Thai star said.

“What Chevron has done at this tournament, increasing the purse and really growing the women’s game, is really something that we’re looking for, what everyone is looking for.

“At the same time, having to move this event out of California, out of the desert, is sad. I love coming back here. But we’re evolving and changing, and we’re always looking forward to what’s new.”

South Korean world number one Ko Jin-young – winner of the tournament in 2019 – leads a powerful group vying for the right to be the final winner at Mission Hills.

Ko has been in sensational form over the past year, winning six of his last 11 tournaments, finishing outside the top 10 only once in that span.

The 26-year-old Seoulese would like nothing more than to add a second victory at Rancho Mirage to her collection of 24 professional titles, and revealed on Tuesday that she was better prepared for the dive in Poppie’s Pond should she emerge victorious on Sunday.

Ko took the plunge with caddy David Booker and agent Choi Soo-jin three years ago, even though she was afraid to do so.

“It was the first time I jumped into the pool in my life, so I was a little scared, but I had to do it,” Ko recalled.

“I tried to keep the smile on my face, smile and jump into Poppie’s Pond. It was fun, but I was a little scared.”

Michael C. Ford