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Stats and Stuff - An off week before first major

March 26 2013, Ward Clayton

An off week before first major
           
The NFL takes an off week after the conference championship games and before the Super Bowl to allow teams to take a deep breath before the season finale. So why not do that on the LPGA?
           
With five major championships this year, three of the tournaments are preceded by an off week on the schedule. The Solheim Cup also doesn't have an opening act the previous week. On most occasions, the off week is necessary because of a long trip from one venue to another. The Wegmans LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open both have tournaments leading into their summer dates.
           
Here's a look at the majors with no event the week before:

• Kraft Nabisco Championship: The Kia Classic last week was played in Carlsbad, Calif., 115 miles and two hours by car from Rancho Mirage, Calif., the site of next week's first major championship, the Kraft Nabisco. Maybe that short distance allows players to focus on the first big tournament of the year, play a few practice rounds and not stress over how they'll get from one venue to the next.

• Ricoh Women's British Open: The Marathon Classic is played July 18-21 in Toledo, Ohio, and the off date the following week allows players to take their time getting adjusted to a five-hour time difference and to ooh and ahh over The Old Course at St. Andrews, only the second time the women have tackled one of the world's most famous courses. Lorena Ochoa won the debut at St. Andrews in 2007.

• The Evian Championship: The Portland Classic is scheduled to end on Sept. 1 in Portland, Ore., making for quite a trip to France on the quick, so an off week allows players to travel to France for the debut of the fifth major championship. It may take players a bit to figure out the redesigned Evian Golf Club course also.

• The Solheim Cup: For one of the most emotional events in women's golf, it's probably good to have a week off beforehand to prepare, especially since the event follows the Ricoh Women's British Open at St. Andrews and a trip from Scotland to the Colorado Golf Club is a long trek.

"I would rather be playing," said Stacy Lewis, in her second week at the world's top-ranked player. "I always seem to play better when I have kind of some momentum going, so I would definitely rather play leading up to majors. But can't really do too much about that.

"But a lot of the times it's hard if we play in the States and then the next week we play in France.  The travel is too hard, so in that aspect I don't mind it so much."


Recari's streak at 57

           
Beatriz Recari obviously thrives on playing golf. In her second career victory last week at the Kia Classic, the Spaniard played in her 57th consecutive LPGA tournament, dating back to the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Recari has not missed a cut in 38 straight LPGA tournaments, going back to the September 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic where she shot 78-75. That is fourth in the current cuts streak, behind Karrie Webb (49), Paula Creamer (47) and Jiyai Shin (41).
           
Recari likes the week-to-week routine. She has top-10 finishes in four of her last eight LPGA starts, including last week's victory. Her three top-10s this year as second only to four by Stacy Lewis, the LPGA's only two-time winner.


Etc.

Beatriz Recari, the winner of last week's Kia Classic, may not want to hear this: Only two players have won the event before and then the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Annika Sorenstam at the Standard Register PING in 2001 and the Safeway International in 2005 and Lorena Ochoa at the Safeway International in 2008. … Recari's final-round 74 at the Kia Classic last week was the first round of par or above by a winner thus far on the LPGA. … As Amanda Blumenherst comes off bookends of 69 and 68 at last week's Kia Classic, her new husband, Nate Freiman, is changing also. The first base prospect was in the Houston Astros camp before being claimed by the Oakland A's over the weekend. The best part of the move is the A's train in Arizona, where the couple lives, as he strives to make his major-league debut. "We went to Jamaica (on the honeymoon in early 2013), it was awesome, it was absolutely beautiful," Blumenherst said. "We were there for 10 days and we came back mid-January, so I had some time to get the rust off, get the golf clubs, get some practicing in and be able to focus." … Mission Hills Country Club, next week's course for the Kraft Nabisco Championship, has been the only course the tournament has ever used. This year marks 42 years at the same site (1972 tournament debut). … Last week's playoff was the first of the season on the LPGA. Last year, there were two playoffs in the first five tournaments.


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