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Whan: ANA-ANWA plan a work in progress, co-existing again in 2020

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CHASKA, Minn. – The ANA Inspiration will co-exist on the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur for at least one more year, LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said Friday.

The ANA Inspiration will be played April 2-5 at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., in 2020 with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur once again overlapping – the final round of the ANWA’s 54-hole event to be played on April 4 at Augusta National.

“Still not ready to commit that that’s the long-term answer to the ANA,” Whan said.

Whan outlined challenges that arise trying to move the ANA dates, with venue conflicts and TV issues complicating change, but the LPGA continues to study its options. The biggest downside in continuing to share the week with Augusta National, Whan said, is the media attention the ANWA diverts from the ANA.

“I still believe, and maybe I’m the one with the rose-colored glasses, but I still believe if we get it right long term, with the Augusta-ANA combination, we are going to create a weekend that’s really going to be a celebration, not that it wasn’t this year,” Whan said. “I think we can continue to live there.”

Full-field scores from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Whan is working with ANA as the title sponsor, and with IMG as event management, to map out possible new dates, but there are daunting obstacles.

If they move the ANA Inspiration up one week, which means swapping dates with the Kia Classic, the LPGA would be pitted against the PGA Tour’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. The ANA would lose the beefed-up TV coverage that Golf Channel gives the ANA in its current date.

“We would be tape delayed on three of the four nights and probably have nine or 10 hours of TV instead of 26 hours,” Whan said.

The LPGA won’t move the ANA a week later, because then it’s up against the Masters. If the LPGA moves the ANA two weeks later, it conflicts with the immensely popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, with hotel rates in Palm Springs skyrocketing and with volunteers difficult to find as so many residents make their summer migration away from the area.

Whan said there’s conflict with Mission Hills in trying to play the ANA two weeks earlier.

Whan conceded sharing the date with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Augusta National’s Drive, Chip and Putt competition divert media focus from the ANA.

“I’ve said to players, I get stuck in my own little world of solving,” Whan said. “But if you had asked me as a fan, before I was the commissioner . . . how can this be bad for anybody? A lot of people were talking about women’s golf all weekend, no matter what they were talking about. Because that’s true, this thing can live together long term. I don’t know that it will from a date perspective. I have to make sure ANA believes that as much as I do. But I think it’s possible.”