This week is the ANA Inspiration, formerly known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which is held in lovely Rancho Mirage CA.
Please understand that I am NOT saying that the players I haven't chosen are incapable of winning this event... but I only have 5 choices. Don't be upset when I leave out some of your favorites.
And believe me, I've left out a LOT of favorites.
To begin with, I've left out defending champion Lexi Thompson, runner-up Michelle Wie, and 3rd place Stacy Lewis from last year. Lexi's game just seems to be a bit flat to me right now, Michelle is recovering from a string of illnesses (strep and sinus infections among them) so I don't think she's quite ready to contend, and Stacy is so determined to get a win that she's getting in her own way.
Likewise, I don't think Lydia Ko will win. Maybe it's just me, but she seems to be tired right now -- mentally tired, that is. She's been showing more irritation with her game than usual and I'm not so sure that this chance to win a major at 17 won't prove to be a distraction to her. She's certainly aware of the expectations. And Azahara Munoz is listed in the field, but I think that her recent hand surgery will be a problem if she does tee it up.
So who are my choices? I'm glad you asked:
- Cristie Kerr is my favorite to win. She finished T4 last year and is coming off a win at the Kia. But more importantly, Cristie seems to have turned a corner in her game. Last week Judy Rankin noted that her swing changes seem to have finally taken hold (I saw her hit a couple of 300-yard drives last week) and, most imporantly, her putting seems to have come around. I really like her chances.
- Hyo Joo Kim has played in only one major so far... and she won it, the 2014 Evian. In addition, she won the JTBC Founders Cup just a couple of weeks ago. This girl has a steady game and I have no doubt she can navigate her way around the Dinah Shore Tournament Course without any problems at all.
- Inbee Park hasn't been putting quite as well as I'm used to seeing, yet she continues to post high finishes week after week. It's not like she's putting badly, however, and I won't be surprised if she gets the flat stick running well again this week.
- Alison Lee is one of my fliers. Although this is her rookie year, she finally seems to be getting her footing. She finished solo 4th at the Kia, so why not stay on a roll at the major?
- And my other flier is Se Ri Pak. She's finally healthy again and posted a Top10 at the Kia. Last year she was T4 with Cristie at this major and she's won it a couple of times already, so this is a place she feels comfortable.