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LPGA plays first major at Kraft Nabisco

(Photo: Tristan Jones/LET Tour)
The first major of the 2010 LPGA Tour season comes this week when the Kraft Nabisco Championship is played the tournament's long time venue, the Desmond Muirhead designed Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills near Rancho Mirage around two hours drive east of Los Angeles.

The tournament was first played in 1972 although it only became a major championship on the LPGA Tour in 1983 under the then name of The Nabisco Dinah Shore.

The defending champion in 2010 is Brittany Lincicome who last year eagled the 72nd hole for a one shot victory over Kristy McPherson and Cristie Kerr. Lincicome also finished runner up to Morgan Pressel in 2007 so this venue has been good to the three time LPGA Tour winner. Lincicome will however need to improve on a poor start to her 2010 season if she is to figure this year.

Lorena Ochoa is a winner and runner up in this event but like Lincicome, Ochoa is battling a slow start to her season and will need to improve sharply if she is to contend with several very much in-form players at present.

Jiyai Shin is the world number two and in three starts in this event she has a best of 15th. She has twice finished third in three events this season including at last week's Kia Classic. She is primed to win her second major championship this week.

Suzann Pettersen started the season well with two top threes in Asia before injuring herself prior to the ANZ Ladies Masters. She returned with a very average tournament last week at the Kia Classic. If she is fully fit then she will be a significant threat given that she has been twice runner up and once 5th in her last three starts in this event. 

Ai Miyazato started the season off with a rush by winning in Thailand and Singapore and has moved to the number four position in women's golf. Surprisingly Miyazato has a poor record at this event but she is a much more credentialed better player now than previously and she could do well.

Cristie Kerr was runner up in Singapore in February and it would not surprise if she won her second major here. She was runner up last year and has two other third placed finishes in the event.

The strong Korean contingent is led by Shin but there are just so many in the field and so many with winning chances that they are hard to separate. Last week's winner in California, Hee Kyung Seo, was so emphatic in her five shot victory that she could easily do well this week. She was a five time winner in Korea last week and over the years we have seen plenty of leading players on that tour do very well early on in their LPGA Tour careers. She has the game to win a major at some stage and if it was this week then few would be surprised.

Recent Australian Women's Open winner Yani Tseng must be a chance. She started her LPGA Tour season well with two third placed efforts in Asia and then the win at the commonwealth Golf Club. Last week's 57th place finish at the Kia Classic was not exactly expected and she does not enjoy a great record in her few starts at the Kraft Nabisco but she is a huge talent.

Michelle Wie will win a major championship before too long and her good tournament last week in California suggests that it could just be this week. She played this event well earlier in her career before she lost her way with some poor career choices but she is back on track and should have a good week.

Karrie Webb leads the Australians and as the 2006 winner and a two time winner overall she stands a chance of continuing a solid start to the season.

Katherine Hull, Lindsey Wright and Wendy Doolan are the other Australians in the field. Wright, Webb and Hull all finished inside the top ten at last year's tournament.

The tournament carries prizemoney of US$2 million.

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