On Sunday, the Chevron Championship saw its final day's play at Mission Hills Country Club in California, with Jennifer Kupcho securing her first Major title as well as being the last jumper into Poppie's Pond.
With the relationship between the LPGA and the Coachella Valley venue now ending after 51 years, the tournament is now set to move to Texas and a new May date for 2023.
Some individuals though are disappointed with the move, with players like Tour veteran, Christina Kim, stating in an interview with The Desert Sun on Friday: “It’s very bittersweet. This tournament’s been very important to me over the years for a lot of reasons, and I’m really sad to be leaving."
The 38-year-old then added: "I wish that there was more willingness from all parties, including the people (making decisions) here, to have found a way to make it work so that we could’ve stayed here.”
The tournament at Mission Hills Country Club is one of the most historic in the calendar and is the starting signal for a jam-packed year with it being the first Major of the season. However, the Dinah Shore Tournament Course will feature no more, with tournament sponsors, Chevron, stepping in to breathe new life into the event.
For starters, Chevron have boosted the prize money to $5 million, a significant rise to that of last year's $3.6 million. The reason that the company has stepped in is that, over the past few years, the event has struggled to stay afloat, with ticket sales struggling even before the pandemic started.
As well as ticket sales, TV ratings have also dropped severely, partly due to the introduction of the Augusta National Women's Amateur, an event that began in 2019 and that runs at the same time as The Chevron Championship.
Many of the game's stars have voiced their thoughts on the move away from California, with a mixed reception being taken by the world's elite. Kim, who is never afraid to speak passionately on the matter, has pointed some of the criticism towards Augusta National, with the 38-year-old believing the names behind the Masters, in essence, pushed the desert tournament out by creating a counter programme to The Chevron Championship, with the ANWA being played from Thursday to Saturday.
“Truth be told, I’m not gonna lie. I’m really upset with Augusta National. There’s no reason why we couldn’t continue to have this tournament (The Chevron Championship) be the first Major in professional golf,” Kim said. “And I think it’s absolutely disgusting what they’re doing and I have no problem saying that. It’s bull hockey what they’re doing.”
The way that the ANWA is run also annoys Kim, with amateurs allowed just one practice round at Augusta National, before then having to qualify inside the top-30 to play a competitive round on the iconic layout.
“It barely qualifies as the bare minimum of allowing those girls one practice round and giving them a playoff to see who’s going to make the cut into the final round at that place,” Kim states.
Away from Augusta National, the three-time LPGA Tour winner appreciates the effort and support from Chevron stepping in, but Kim would have liked to have seen more of an effort made to give recognition to the history of the event and its legacy with Mission Hills.
“I know there were attempts made to try and see if the date could change because Augusta was doing what Augusta does,” explained Kim. “But it did not work for the region here either, so unfortunately, it would be easy to say there’s no one to blame other than Augusta National, but that’s neither here nor there. Everyone could have worked… I’m sure everyone did everything they think that they could’ve done to keep the tournament here. But the reality is we’re not coming back.”
After a slight pause, Kim added “For now at least," with the 38-year-old going onto say: “Maybe a big corporation will step up and see — like the American Express did for the men — that the women belong here in the desert.
"The golf here is incredible, the people here are amazing, the culture here is fun, it’s artsy, it’s inclusive, it’s diverse and it fits right in with the ethos of the LPGA so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have a tournament here. It’s just very bittersweet.
“The foundation has already been established. The people, the ones that really matter, the heart and soul of the LPGA coming to the desert are the fans. One can always hope that something can come out of this.”
After her passionate statement, Kim reportedly wanted to make one last clarification before the interview was over, with the American stating: “I have no problem saying all that on the record. You can tell because I said ‘Bull hockey’ instead of what I really wanted to say.”
Get the Golf Monthly Newsletter
Tips on how to play better, latest equipment reviews, interviews with the biggest names and more.
Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
'A Pretty Weak Argument' - Brad Faxon Questions Rory McIlroy's Bifurcation Comments
Faxon questioned Rory McIlroy's statement that the sport is already bifurcated, where professionals use different equipment to recreational players
By Elliott Heath Published
How PGA Tour Driving Distance Has Increased Through The Years
The golf ball rollback plans have been announced to address driving distances, but much have they increased on the PGA Tour?
By Mike Hall Published