The first major of the 2014 LPGA Tour season kicks off this week with the 31st annual Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park returns for the first of her three major title defenses this season as she will try to become the first player to record back-to-back jumps into Poppie’s Pond since Annika Sorenstam did it in 2001 and 2002.
Park has gotten off to a hot start in 2014 with four-straight top-10 finishes, including a tie for sixth last week at the Kia Classic. During her streak of top-10s on the LPGA, Park also tallied a victory on the Ladies European Tour at the World Ladies Championship in China. This marks one of the best starts of the South Korean’s career as she currently ranks sixth in Rolex Player of the Year points and ninth in the Race to the CME Globe and leads the Tour in scoring average (69.25), rounds under par (14) and rounds in the 60s (8).
Another past champion who has been having an impressive season is Karrie Webb. The 2000 and 2006 winner will enter the season’s first major riding high after victories at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and JTBC Founders Cup. Webb has played in the Kraft Nabisco 19 times and has finished in the top-20 all but three times including 11 top-10s.
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis heads back to Mission Hills seeking her third career major title. Lewis became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and then added her second major title at last year’s RICOH Women’s British Open. Lewis, who is sitting in fourth in the Race to the CME Globe, has recorded top-10 finishes in 16 of her past 17 events on Tour.
Other past champions in the field this week include Juli Inkster (1984 & 1989), Pat Hurst (1998), Morgan Pressel (2007), Brittany Lincicome (2009), Yani Tseng (2010) and Sun Young Yoo (2012).