Karrie Webb at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship
Four Australians will be teeing it up this week in the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, with each of them hoping to be the one leaping into Poppie’s Pond come Sunday afternoon (US time).
Queensland’s Karrie Webb will be leading the Aussie assault and has twice made the leap as the champion, which is a tradition at the tournament played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club, Rancho Mirage, California.
Webb is joined in the field by fellow Queenslanders Katherine Hull-Kirk and Sarah Jane Smith and Victorian Lindsey Wright.
The seven time major champion won the tournament first back in 2000 and then again in 2006. 2006 was an amazing win, Webb started the day seven shots back from the leader, she played well throughout the round and made one of the shots of her career on the 18th hole. Webb holed her third shot on the par 5 for an eagle and went onto defeat the then World No. 1 Lorena Ochoa in a playoff.
The Kraft Nabisco is one of Webb favourite events of the year as she explained earlier this week.
“Kraft Nabisco is one of my favourite events of the year. I have traditionally played quite well here. I think it's a combination of the course suiting my game and the atmosphere of the event.”
“There is a lot of history to the event, the players know and the crowd loves it. There isn't a player that doesn't want to jump in the lake if they win!!”
“My game is in pretty good shape. Played well at Kia for three days but wasn't quite as sharp on the last round. All in all I've had a pretty decent start to the year.”
The World Golf Hall of Famer has been working with her coach, Ian Triggs since the week-end, so she is expecting to have her game fully sharpened and ready to go come the first round.
Wright will be another to watch this week. The 33-year-old was near the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes last year and has been playing well since returning from a foot injury three weeks ago in Phoenix. The talented Victorian is hitting the ball as well as she ever has and posted a top five finish back in 2009.
The defending champion is South Korean Sun Young Yoo. Yoo was unlikely champion as it looked for all money like fellow compatriot I.K Kim would win until she missed a one-foot par putt on the 72nd hole to force a two-player playoff. Yoo hit her approach shot to 20-feet on the first playoff hole and sank the birdie putt to clinch what seemed to be an improbable victory at the season's first major championship.
Current Rolex World No. 1 Stacy Lewis will be the favourite this week. Lewis has stated the year in red hot form. In five starts, Lewis has two wins, and posted another two top-10 finishes and has ascended to No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Rankings. She leads the LPGA in earnings ($560,126), stroke average (69.1), rounds under par, birdies, eagles and Rolex Player of the Year points, among other categories.
Another player to watch will be New Zealand’s amateur Lydia Ko it will be making her first appearance at the tournament.
111 players will tee it up this week. Prizemoney for the Championship is US$2 million.