The women's first major of the year is upon us. We preview the action and give you a few tips to keep your eye on this week. By Lewis Blain.

ANA Inspiration Preview And Betting Tips

The first women’s major of the calendar year gets underway on Thursday as the Mission Hills Country Club in California hosts the ANA Inspiration.

Ryu So-yeon returns to defend the title she won controversially last year after defeating Lexi Thompson via a playoff.

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Thompson led by two-strokes on the 12th hole during the final round but she was deducted four strokes for a rules infraction from the previous day’s play – two for the infraction and two for ultimately signing an incorrect scorecard.

It’s tradition to jump into the lake on the 18th hole after victory

If you fancy Lexi Thompson to go one better this year, she is favourite with Sportnation.bet at 19/2. Last week’s winner Inbee Park is second-favourite at 10/1.

South Korean Jin Young Ko currently leads the Race to the CME Globe standings while the likes of Michelle Wie, Jessica Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn are in the top 5 and in the field this week.

Longer hitters tend to do well around the Mission Hills course as it measures a total of 6,769 yards when this tournament is in town.

The field features each of the winners from the last 10 years, as well as some household names like Laura Davies and Anna Nordqvist, while some may not have heard of 15-year-old Atthaya Thitikul who comes into the tournament having won the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Golf Championship.

Lexi Thompson with the trophy after her three stroke victory in 2014. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

At the age of 14 she became the youngest ever winner of a professional event when she won the Ladies European Thailand Championship and ranks just outside the top 200 in the world.

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ANA Inspiration Golf Betting Tips

Ariya Jutanugarn – 17/1 with Sportnation.bet

22-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn has begun the season in fine form, with 3 top 10s in 5 starts and has a great record in the five majors. In 2016, she placed inside the top-20 for all five with a 4th at the ANA and a 3rd at the Women’s PGA Championship. She could have won round here in 2016 but finished with three straight birdies to hand the title to Lydia Ko, she comes into this in much better footing. She ranks 5th on tour for driving distance which will come in handy around this course, she is also inside the top 20 for scoring average and is one of the best putters on tour ranking 8th. At 18/1 she looks the solid pick of the favourites.

Amy Yang – 34/1 with Sportnation.bet

Amy Yang during the LPGA Thailand event in February this year.
(Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

Another player who is in form and clearly likes it around here is Amy Yang. The South Korean has a decent pedigree in the majors, finishing second twice at the US Women’s Open and a trio of 4th place finishes, including one here in 2012. Her current form reads 11-10-14-3 so she is certainly playing herself into contention for the first major of the year. A key trend with winners around here is taking advantage of the par-5s and she ranks 7th for par 5 scoring. She is pretty long off the tee ranking 30th on tour. She can add to her 3-LPGA Tour titles with a win here and 35/1 is a great price.

Atthaya Thitikul – 100/1 with Sportnation.bet

An outsider with a great chance is the aforementioned Atthaya Thitikul. She is definitely one to keep an eye on having held her own at the LPGA HSBC World Championship in Singapore earlier this month with an 8th place finish. She won wire-to-wire at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship and is worth a few pennies at 150/1.

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