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Saturday, March 29, 2014

On the Eve of the First Majors

While everybody is talking about the Masters in two weeks, it's easy to forget that the LPGA's first major is next week. The Kraft Nabisco (aka the Dinah) is a mere two rounds away!

Lizette Salas

Let's take a quick look at both, beginning with the Masters.

Several players are taking the next couple of weeks off -- Adam and Tiger being the most notable -- but some are trying to play themselves into form. Although the commentators talked like the second round of the Valero would run into Saturday (due to the fog delays Thursday), play finished up as planned on Friday night. Phil Mickelson made the cut right on the number (+3) and Jordan Spieth got to +1, so both will have a chance to get some more competitive rounds under their belts.

For the most part, "name" players struggled. Many of them got the bad end of the draw but, name player or not, only leader Steven Bowditch (-8, 69-67) has managed to put two really good rounds together. Matt Kuchar isn't lighting up the leaderboard but he's at -2 after shooting 70-72 and Zach Johnson is -3 after 70-71. Pat Perez is playing the best of this group at -5 (68-71). 

Chesson Hadley's hopes of making the Masters are still alive. I believe he needs a Top7 to gain entry through the OWGR and he's currently T16 (-2), just a couple of shots out.

Out at the Kia Classic several name players missed the cut, starting with defending champion Beatriz Recari. Other shockers were Angela Stanford, Sandra Gal, Pornanong Phatlum, Chie Arimura, Caroline Hedwall, and Brittany Lincicome. Laura Davies is listed in next week's field but missing the cut probably won't help her mindset going in. And amateur Mariah Stackhouse (who's from Charlotte, just a couple of hours south of me) missed the cut as well. She isn't listed in next week's field either.

On the positive side, Karrie Webb's amazing rebound was a great sign for her. This season's two-time winner shot 75-68 and barely got into red figures... but after such poor form in Thursday's round, that was almost miraculous. Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr, and Lizette Salas (pictured above) are the top name players in the field -- definitely good signs for them heading into the KNC. Inbee Park didn't fare as well, missing several short putts and bogeying 15, 16 and 17 on the way in. (They said her mental coach was there this week; she really may need her help!)

I have to give a shout-out to Dori Carter who posted an 8-under 64 -- the best round of her life, according to her -- and that was after a bogey-bogey finish! Although she didn't expect a round this low, she says this is the result of a plan of attack she's had for a few months now, not something new she's doing at this event. But I think she has to win to make the major next week.

All-in-all, I don't know that we learned a great deal more about Masters contenders but it's clear that many of the LPGA's usual suspects aren't ready for the Kraft Nabisco. We could very well see a first-time major winner next week.

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