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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The First LPGA Major

While most of the golf world is already buzzing about the Masters, that isn't the first major of the season. The LPGA plays the Kraft Nabisco Championship starting March 31, which is only a week away!

Guess where my mind is?

I'm not going to do a preview of the tournament per se, since we've still got the Kia Classic this week as well as the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA. (Don't worry, I'll be taking a look at it soon.) But I'm already thinking about who has the best chance to win the KNC.

Ironically, most of the talk so far this year has surrounded two players -- Yani Tseng and Karrie Webb. And for good reason. Yani won four straight tournaments (including the first LPGA tourney of the season) to snag #1 in the world. Karrie came in 3rd in Yani's last win, then took the other two herself.

Both women should clearly be in the conversation when we look for favorites at the KNC. Yani is the defending champion (and won the Women's British, the last major played), and Karrie won the thing twice in 2000 & 2006. Most women's golf fans would probably say they are the unquestioned favorites.

Photo of Paula Creamer from LPGA.comConsequently, I'm picking Paula Creamer to win. Here's my reasoning:
  • Paula finally broke through to get her 1st major last year at the US Women's Open, so that "first time" pressure is off.
  • She finally seems to be healthy for the first time in 18 months or so.
  • She's been playing well early on, and finished T2 this past week. Her 11 rounds so far look like this: 69-70-70-71-76-70-72-73-69-70-66, for a scoring average of 70.55. That makes her 4th best on Tour so far. (Thanks to the Constructivist for that info.) And that 66 tied Webb for the best round of the day.
  • The KNC is played in Rancho Mirage CA at Mission Hills. At just over 6700 yards, the course should (barring bad weather) play hard and fast. Paula's not a long hitter but she's very accurate, so this should play to her strengths.
  • She's playing the KIa this week. It's at another California course about the same length, which should be a good warm-up.
  • Perhaps most importantly, Paula seems to be playing more aggressively early this season. I chalk that up to finally feeling good enough to compete.
Of course I'll be interested to see how she does at the Kia Classic this week. But I'm thinking the Pink Panther may add another major trophy to her mantle next week.


  1. Actually I was the one who posted the 70.55 for Paula. One of the few times I got something up before you guys who are all so quick and effecient :)

    Yes, wasn't it great to see Paula reaching those par 5's again? I think she will be a multiple winner this year.

  2. Sorry, Tony -- I was bouncing back-and-forth between you guys, Hound Dog, and, and I forgot to check the "posted by..." credit at the bottom.

    I'm just glad Paula's healthy. And I won't be surprised if she wins several times either. After all, didn't she win her first major with a bum thumb? ;-)

  3. Mike I was just goofing....actually I had to do the scoring averages myself as the LPGA boards are all messed up. I talked to Stacy (who is in charge of statistics) and told her I would help her out and send her the correct numbers, but she assured me they will be corrected and up and running soon.

  4. I appreciate that, Tony, but I like to have my facts right when I quote them... and that includes who they come from. ;-)

    BTW, thanks for the head's-up on the stats. I was wondering what was going on. That overhaul of must have been a handful!