Poppie’s Pond will claim its next victim this week at the 30th annual Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Mission Hills Country Club will play host to the season’s first major and will feature a star-studded field of 112 players, all vying for a $2 million purse and a $300,000 first place check.
The 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship ended in dramatic fashion with Rolex Rankings No. 24 Sun Young Yoo defeating No. 15 I.K. Kim in a one-hole playoff. Kim had the opportunity to take the win in regulation play, but missed a one-foot par putt on the 18th green to take the tournament into extra holes. Yoo hit her approach shot to within 20-feet of the pin on the first playoff hole and sank the birdie putt to claim what seemed to be an improbable victory at the season’s first major championship. Yoo enters the week having two missed cuts in domestic play, but the nostalgia of returning to the home of her first major championship and second-career LPGA win might channel some aggression this week.
Kim’s playoff record acquired another loss last week after Beatriz Recari defeated Kim in a two-hole sudden death playoff at the Kia Classic. Claiming 15 top-10 finishes since her third-career LPGA victory at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational there’s no question Kim’s mental game is focused on the winner’s circle this week.
No. 1 Stacy Lewis is also in the field this week, making her first major appearance since claiming the top billing with her win at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Lewis has come a long way in her career since claiming her first-career LPGA title in the California Desert in 2011 when she defeated then-No. 1 Yani Tseng. With two victories already this season, Mission Hills Country Club could see a splash from the golfer in the world.
The Kraft Nabisco Championship began as a 54-hole event in 1972 with Jane Blalock as its first winner firing a 3-under par 213. The tournament became one of the four LPGA “majors” in 1983 with Amy Alcott securing the first major championship by two strokes from Beth Daniel and Kathy Whitworth.
Other past champions in the field this week include Pat Hurst (1998), Webb (2000, 2006), Grace Park (2004), Morgan Pressel (2007) and Brittany Lincicome (2009).