by Jeff Skinner
Contrary to popular belief, golf’s major season doesn’t begin next week at The Masters. It begins tomorrow at the LPGA’s Kraft Nabisco Championship. The start and stop LPGA season kicks into high gear at one of their highest profile events of the year. It does not get bigger than the Kraft for ladies golf.
The Kraft Nabisco has all the requirements of a worthy major championship. It’s played on an excellent course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. It has plenty of history as this was a tournament started in 1972 with Dinah Shore as the host. The list of past champions is impressive: Amy Alcott, Betsy King, Annika Sorestam, Juli Inkster, Dottie Pepper and Karrie Webb. The past four winners are some of the biggest names in women’s golf, Morgan Pressel, Lorena Ochoa, Brittany Lincicome and 2010’s defending champ Yani Tseng. The Kraft doesn’t lack for tradition either. It’s not the Green Jacket but that leap into the pond is pretty cool.
World number one, Yani Tseng will defend against every top player in the world. And they all will have to bring their best games if they want to beat Tseng. Tseng has already won four times this year and has won three majors in the past two seasons. No player on any tour, man or women can come close to that. If Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or any other male golfer had that resume they’d be talking “domination.” But since it is Tseng there’s little talk about her being the best player in the world. All she does is win trophies and bring them back to her new house and huge trophy room. She bought the house from Annika Sorestam last year and says she’s doing her best to fill all those spaces on the shelves.
Tseng will have to deal a with very deep field if she wants to repeat. Jiya Shin is playing well and looking to take back her number one spot. Cristie Kerr, number three in the world, would love to win this elusive major and continue her climb to number one. The player that may have the biggest grudge with the Kraft is Suzzann Pettersen. She has three second place finishes in the last four years and that can’t sit well with the emotional Pettersen.
Michele Wie will be looking to capture her first major and this would be a great place for her to win and it would do wonders for the LPGA. If Wie could win on such a big stage, with all the hype surrounding The Masters right now the LPGA would finally get a much needed break. Behind Tiger and Phil, Wie is the most recognizable face in golf. A Sunday afternoon with Wie in contention would give the LPGA a much needed shot in the arm.
Finally, the LPGA will get some live television coverage as The Golf Channel will show it live as opposed to those delayed telecasts that are absolutely kill any interest in the LPGA.
Who needs the Green Jacket? The LPGA has “The Leap.”