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Sunday, April 6, 2014

That Elusive Major

(Some days time slips up on you. Sorry this post is late, but fortunately the ladies don't play until later today.)

No matter how good you are, some things are just hard to get... like a particular major. Even getting one major is amazing, but for those at the top of the game it can be that last major in a career slam that drives them nuts. Phil Mickelson's pursuit of the US Open is one example. Neither Arnold Palmer nor Tom Watson ever landed the PGA Championship. Nancy Lopez's heartbreaks at the US Women's Open also come to mind.

Few people think about Se Ri Pak's desire to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship. It's true that she never won the du Maurier Classic either, but that one ceased to be a major shortly after she joined the LPGA so she never really had a good chance. (It's still an event on Tour though. Now you know why the CN Canadian Women's Open is so important to the ladies.)

Today she gets what may be her best chance ever to capture the KNC. (Her best previous finish was T8 in 2012.) Of course, it's not going to be easy. At -8 she's 2 strokes back of leaders Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson -- two players who have found any major to be elusive, although Lexi hasn't had that many chances yet.

Let's face it: The odds aren't on Se Ri's side. As a general rule, the KNC winner comes from the final pairing. And while Se Ri's a fairly long hitter, her closest competitors are 3 of the longest hitters on Tour -- Michelle, Lexi, and Charley Hull, who's also at -8.

I don't know what will happen today. It should be interesting because we have 4 different approaches to the game fighting for this major. The main attention will be on Lexi and Michelle who, if they play to form, will attack the course very differently. Lexi will bomb her way around the course while Michelle will methodically dissect it. Bear in mind that Lexi's approach resulted in bogey on the 18th yesterday -- and bombing it on that hole gave her no advantage because she couldn't reach the green even with a good drive. If it comes down to these two players, I think Michelle has the advantage and, to be honest, I think she's going to win today.

That is, if everyone keeps a handle on their nerves. Being this close to something as elusive as a major can do strange things to people.

If those two stumble, which could happen if nerves get to their putting, Se Ri and Charley could steal this thing. Se Ri's "veteran perspective" could give her an advantage if she doesn't get ahead of herself. But don't over look Charley Hull. Kelly Tilghman called her a "wild card," but Charley is way more than that. She hasn't let her ability to bomb it get in the way of strategy the way Lexi has. If the other 3 get in their own way, I think Charley's "hit it and see where it goes" philosophy makes her the likely winner.

I wish they all could win but only one can grab that elusive major. We'll find out at 5pm ET on GC today. I think this win would mean more to Michelle and I'd love to see her get it... but I still have to say...

Good luck, Se Ri.

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