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Grace Ni of Cypress Earns Dream Ticket to Compete for a Spot in LPGA’s First Major – ANA Inspiration

March 1st, 2018

All Nippon Airways (ANA) contributes $5,000 to 11 Gateway City golf foundations in honor of
ANA Gateway City Qualifiers for the ANA Junior Inspiration


RANCHO MIRAGE, California – The ANA Junior Inspiration announced Grace Ni of Cypress, Texas, as the Houston Gateway City Qualifier and in her honor ANA’s Gateway City Grant has donated $5,000 to the Southern Texas PGA Section.


The ANA Junior Inspiration, a partnership between the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), will be held March 22-25, at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. The AJGA invitation-only field will be tested for 36 holes on the Pete Dye Challenge Course before playing the final round on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course with LPGA Legends. During the final round, each pairings group will feature one LPGA legend and two juniors. Juniors will compete for the stroke-play title and participate in a fun competition among pairings groups in a best-ball format with the legends.


Forty-eight of the top junior girls in the world earned entry into the ANA Junior Inspiration, an official AJGA Invitational. Juniors, such as Ni, qualified through the “ANA Priority Mileage” point system, which is based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings, with 11 spots given to the top qualifiers in ANA’s gateway cities of Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Vancouver and Washington D.C.


Ni is a four-time AJGA champion, most recently at the 2017 AJGA Otter Creek Junior Championship presented by Circle K. The junior will be making her first appearance at the ANA Junior Inspiration after starting the year with a T7 finish at the Foley Performance Academy @ EaglesDream Junior Championship.


“I chose to give my grant to the Southern Texas PGA because I have played in Southern Texas PGA tournaments since I began playing golf,” Ni said. “There is a family feeling of support between the program and I. I know many of the staff members there and they have watched me grow from a 5-year-old little girl to a 16-year-old teenager. I am thankful for their dedication to junior golf.”


After qualifying as a representative of one of ANA’s gateway cities, each Gateway City Qualifier chose a golf association in their Gateway City to receive a $5,000 grant from the ANA Junior Inspiration. Ni chose to give the Gateway City Grant to the golf association that helped her grow into the golfer she is today, the Southern Texas PGA.


“It is always rewarding when our junior golfers like Grace come full circle to playing in our program to giving back to the game,” said Southern Texas PGA Executive Director Thomas Hutton. “It is inspiring to see young adults already understand the importance of helping the next generation learn this sport and see the value in creating lifetime golfers.”


Since the Gateway City Grant program began in 2017, the ANA Junior Inspiration has donated $110,000 to local golf associations throughout the country. Giving back to local junior golf organizations is mission-critical for the AJGA. Since the AJGA began in 1978, more than $3 million has been donated to more than 400 junior golf organizations worldwide.

“The AJGA is once again thrilled to support ANA in giving back to local golf associations in its North American Gateway Cities,” said AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. “The AJGA has always recognized the importance of local, state and regional golf associations in the development of junior golfers. We are proud to continue our support of these organizations with the ANA Junior Inspiration and look forward to seeing this grant money in action across North America.”

“Entering into the 2018 ANA Junior Inspiration tournament, we could not be more excited. As the title sponsor of the ANA Inspiration, we wanted to continue to inspire aspiring golfers and have the most exciting tournament in junior golf,” said Mr. Hideki Kunugi, Senior Vice President of the Americas, ANA. “For ANA, it is vital that our sponsorship leaves a lasting legacy and not only inspires the players of today but the future stars of tomorrow – especially in our gateway cities such as Chicago. As Japan’s largest airline we are in the business of connecting people so we are thrilled to continue to help connect young players from around the world as they start their inspirational journey in the game.”

About the ANA Inspiration

The ANA Inspiration is golf’s first major and one of the LPGA Tour’s most prestigious events. Previously known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the tournament was founded in 1972 by David Foster and Dinah Shore and earned the designation as a major championship in 1983. Contested at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., since its inception, the ANA Inspiration holds the distinction of being the second oldest golf tournament continuously held at the same course. For many, the event is most distinguished by one of golf’s most beloved traditions: the champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond, located adjacent to the 18th green. In 1988, the first champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond was taken by Amy Alcott, and since has become one of the most anticipated and memorable traditions in golf. For more information on the ANA Inspiration, please visit or call 760-834-8872. On social media, visit, or 


About the AJGA

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, the American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 6,900 members from 50 states and 60 foreign countries. Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitable-giving skills, and the Internship Program, which provides career development for future golf professionals, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.

TaylorMade-adidas Golf became the AJGA’s National Sponsor in 2016 after more than 25 years of support and is the Official Ball of the AJGA. Rolex, which is in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2017, adidas joined the AJGA as a Premier Partner, serving as the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.


Michelle Hantak, AJGA

(314) 814-1394,

Ben Mann, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
(310) 633-9442,

Mike Scanlan, IMG
(386) 843-0188,