LPGA’s Chevron Championship to leave Mission Hills CC

Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand, jumps into the water after winning the LPGA's ANA Inspiration go ...

The year’s first women’s golf major arrives this week with a sense of melancholy.

The newly renamed Chevron Championship begins Thursday at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. It’s been the home for the LPGA event, forever known as the Dinah Shore, since 1972.

While Chevron has boosted the purse by 60 percent to $5 million, the tradeoff is the new sponsor is taking the tournament to an unnamed Houston course starting in 2023.

It’s a heartbreaking move for both fans and players, the equivalent of moving the Masters away from Augusta National for the men.

While boys grow up imagining slipping on a green jacket in Butler’s Cabin, girls dream of one day taking a leap into Poppy’s Pond off the 18th green and slipping on the champion’s robe.

“It’s pretty sad, you know,” Lizette Salas said of the change. “I remember going there as a teenage girl, watching Lorena (Ochoa) with my little sign, and my dream is to always jump into Poppy’s Pond. I’ve had some really good memories there, and the fact it’s going to be the last one, it’s kind of bittersweet.”

World No. 1 Jin Young Ko said she’s excited about playing a major, but the week will certainly have a different feel.

“This is a little sad,” Ko said. “I will miss Poppy’s Pond.”

In an era where tournaments change venues regularly and many courses seem interchangeable, it’s nice to have a big event on a course with history, tradition and a great layout to boot.

LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said the decision was not made lightly, but having a strong sponsor and a dramatic purse increase were hard to ignore.

As for the tournament itself, another cloud hangs over the event with the absence of Nelly Korda. The top-ranked American player announced March 13 that she had been diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm.

Other than an initial social media post from Korda saying she was home getting treatment, there has been silence from Korda and her camp. How serious the condition is and how long the world’s No. 2 player will be out remains anyone’s guess.

Scheffler’s rise

If there’s one fact that explains how sizzling Scottie Scheffler has been in 2022, consider this: The time between Scheffler winning for the first time on the PGA Tour to his reaching No. 1 in the world rankings was 42 days.

That is the fastest assent to No. 1 in history, a mark previously held by Tiger Woods who needed more than nine months to pull off the feat.

With his wins in Phoenix, at Bay Hill, and at the Match Play over the weekend, Scheffler is the first player with three wins in a season prior to the Masters since both Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas did it in 2016-2017.

It’s all been a whirlwind to Scheffler.

“It’s been kind of a crazy past few months,” he said Sunday. “I got my first win in Phoenix, and I guess this is my third now, and golly, what a long week. I really don’t know how to describe the emotion.”

Scheffler now gets a week off before heading to Augusta where he’ll be among the favorites. But to him, it’s about the competition and not the rankings.

“I grew up wearing long pants to go to practice because I wanted to be a professional golfer,” he said. “That’s what I dreamed of. I dreamed of being out here. … The rankings never really crossed my mind. It was always just about being out here and competing.”

Legacy SNGA

Eric Bauman shot a 1-over 73 to win the SNGA Tour event at Legacy Golf Club in Henderson last week.

Other winners included David Koch (senior), Jeffrey English (silver) and Paul Sansone (net).

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.