But of those nine tournaments this one will be especially emotional as almost 40 years of major championship golf comes to an end at Mission Hills in California.
What started as the Dinah Shore in 1972 and was officially recognised as a major in 1983 will be no more when new title sponsor Chevron moves the tournament to an as yet unnamed venue in Texas.
The opportunity to be the last winner of what has been a staple on the LPGA for the best part of two generations makes the stakes this week just a little higher.
Whoever makes the contrived leap into Poppy’s Pond Sunday evening will have etched a special place in the history books.
RIGHT: Thailand’s Patty Tavakanit was the winner here in 2021. PHOTO: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Patty Tavakanit was a revelation in 2021, the then 21-year-old rookie taking the lead on day one and never relinquishing it.
By Saturday night the margin was five and it looked like Sunday might become a coronation for the long hitting player from Thailand.
However, 2016 champion Lydia Ko jumped from the pack in the final round with a front nine 29 and kept up the pressure on the homeward journey to sign for a course record 62.
That set the clubhouse mark at 16-under with Tavatanakit still on course, but the youngster was up to the challenge, eight pars and a birdie on the back nine handing her a two-shot victory.
COURSE: As host venue for almost 50 years the Mission Hills course has become familiar to fans and players alike in a fashion not dissimilar to Augusta National and The Masters.
While the layout in the California desert lacks the architectural merit of Augusta, familiarity brings its own form of credibility and the 18th hole in particular has been the site of much drama.
When the tee is moved up to make the green reachable in two shots it can provide plenty of Sunday excitement if the leaders are bunched.
On the flip side, when the tee is pushed back and the only option for most in the field is a lay-up then much of the interest is sucked out of the hole.
(The exception to this rule is, of course, our own Karrie Webb whose full wedge third shot in 2006 found the cup, the eagle forcing a play-off which she would go on to win.)
While the final hole is always the most memorable the two that come before it at Mission Hills have often decided the tournament before a shot is struck at 18.
The 18th hole at Mission Hills has provided plenty of drama over the nearly 50 years it has been hosting this event. PHOTO: David Cannon/Getty Images.
The par-4 16th, featuring a large tree blocking any approach missing the fairway right, and the difficult par-3 17th require precise play to navigate in par figures and birdies are rare at both.
It was these two holes that cost Ariya Jutanugarn the tournament in 2016 when she made back-to-back bogeys to hand the title to Lydia Ko, but she isn’t the only player to come to grief here.
There are more scoring opportunities on the front nine at Mission Hills than the back and players need to take advantage then hang on over the closing stretch.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With Nelly Korda missing the tournament courtesy of the blood clot found in her arm three weeks ago, World No.1 Jin Young Ko will, rightfully, be the clear favourite.
The winner in 2019 and T7 last year, Ko appears not to have missed a shot for the best part of a year and her form leading in is beyond impressive.
Six wins in 11 starts dating back to mid last year is decent and in an off week last week she dropped all the way to … T4.
However, golf rarely rewards the favourites and there are plenty in the field with good pedigree this week.
Veterans like Lexi Thompson and Lydia Kowho both have plenty of experience and success around this course, are always dangerous and Ko, in particular, will be a danger this year.
But there is also an exciting crop of young stars emerging in women’s golf including Q-School winner and runner-up, Na Rin An and Pauline Roussin-Bouchardwho were both more than 30-under for the eight rounds to gain a card.
In third place that week was last week’s winner Attaya Thitikula genuinely special talent who is only improving with each passing week.
Who will be the last player to take a celebratory dip in Poppy’s Pond as Karrie Webb did twice in her career? PHOTO: S. Levin/Getty Images.
As the defending champion Patty Tavatanakit showed in 2021, the contenders may not even come from the players with profile and the likes of Hye-Jin Choi and our own Gabi Ruffels could surprise.
Ruffels gets a start courtesy of finishing top-20 here last year and while her early professional career hasn’t yet been as successful as she might like, there is no doubting her liking for this course.
Ruffels is one of five Australians in the field and it is a promising week with both Hannah Green and minjee lee proven performers at this level.
Green has made four appearances here for one missed cut, two top-15 results and an uncharacteristic back of the pack result in 2020.
Lee has fared better with two top-10s (including a T7 last year) and at number four in the world has to be considered among the genuine chances.
Su Oh has never found the Mission Hills layout to her liking and four missed cuts in six starts doesn’t fill one with confidence.
However, at this level golf can turn on the smallest of things, and Oh has played some of the better golf of her LPGA career in recent weeks.
However, she is yet to string four rounds together despite there being flashes of brilliance so if she can manage to break 70 on Thursday or Friday it would be a promising start.
72-HOLE RECORD: 269 (-19, Dottie Pepper1999)
18-HOLE RECORD: 62 (Lydia Ko2021)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Karrie Webb (2000 & 2006).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Sarah Kemp, Su Oh and Gabi Ruffels.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 3am – 7am & 10am – 12pm)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 3am – 7am & 10am – 12pm)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 4.30pm – 6.30pm)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 8am – 10am)
*AEDT/AEST, check local guides
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