Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kraft Nabisco Championship Preview/Predictions/Pairings

It's major time on the LPGA this week! With Hound Dog's excellent preview of the Kraft Nabisco Championship joined by a stepped-up local media effort (led by Larry Bohannan) and posts from large-traffic golf blogs (such as Devil Ball Golf and Golf Girl), the attention level on the LPGA is much higher than usual, although less than it would be if the KNC came after rather than before the Masters (for Exhibit A, I give you Steve Elling and Ross Devonport). One thing I'm particularly excited about is that we're finally having an event where the historical stats and tournament history matter, so I don't just have to go by my hot list and guesswork. Here are my picks:

1. Ochoa
2. Tseng
3. Kerr
4. Stanford
5. Pak
6. Park Angela
7. Webb
8. Shin
9. Ji
10. Kim Song-Hee
11. Pettersen
12. Miyazato

Alts: Choi Na Yeon, Lang, Creamer

With a field this awesome--including top amateurs Tiffany Joh, Azahara Munoz, Candace Schepperle, and Alexis Thompson, Jennifer Johnson, JLPGA greats Yuri Fudoh, Akiko Fukushima, Ji Hee Lee, Miho Koga, and Sakura Yokomine, KLPGA stars Ha Neul Kim and Hee Kyung Seo, and even top LETers Gwladys Nocera and Martina Eberl--literally anything can happen. What thickens the plot even more is the way the tournament organizers set up the pairings--with such a limited field, the players are going off in pairs from day 1.

Off the 10th tee at 8:01 am, for instance, Wie and Miyazato should get the slightest bit of media and spectator attention, allowing Ha Neul Kim and Miho Koga to go off the 1st 22 minutes later comparatively incognito. And those aren't even among the prime-time pairings! Where to start with them? How about off the back in the late morning?

Start Time: 8:49 AM
Lorena Ochoa
Ji-Yai Shin

Start Time: 8:57 AM
Ya Ni Tseng
Natalie Gulbis

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Angela Stanford
Louise Friberg

Start Time: 9:13 AM
Ji Young Oh
Brittany Lincicome

Start Time: 9:21 AM
Leta Lindley
Seon Hwa Lee

Start Time: 9:29 AM
Brittany Lang
Inbee Park

Or maybe those going off the front in the early afternoon?

Start Time: 12:00 PM
Paula Creamer
Pat Hurst

Start Time: 12:08 PM
Cristie Kerr
Juli Inkster

Start Time: 12:16 PM
Momoko Ueda
Karrie Webb

Start Time: 12:24 PM
Jane Park
Morgan Pressel

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Nicole Castrale
Na Yeon Choi

Start Time: 12:40 PM
Jee Young Lee
Michele Redman

But what about those going off the back opposite them?

Start Time: 12:00 PM
Sun Young Yoo
Rachel Hetherington

Start Time: 12:08 PM
Wendy Ward
Christina Kim

Start Time: 12:16 PM
Young Kim
Candie Kung

Start Time: 12:24 PM
Eun-Hee Ji
Katherine Hull

Start Time: 12:32 PM
Suzann Pettersen
Grace Park

Start Time: 12:40 PM
Helen Alfredsson
Laura Diaz

Or those going off the front in the late morning:

Start Time: 8:49 AM
Song-Hee Kim
Silvia Cavalleri

Start Time: 8:57 AM
Mi Hyun Kim
In-Kyung Kim

Start Time: 9:05 AM
Stacy Prammanasudh
Liselotte Neumann

Start Time: 9:13 AM
Meaghan Francella
Angela Park

Start Time: 9:21 AM
Hee-Won Han
Se Ri Pak

Start Time: 9:29 AM
Carin Koch
Sophie Gustafson

Wow--amazing stuff! Here's hoping I have time to combine 2007's final-round not-quite-live-blogging and 2008's final-round overview and contextualization in 2009.

[Update 1 (6:28 am): Definitely give the Seoul KNC thread a look-see this week. The gang is going all out and Tim Maitland, whose work at the HSBC I so admired, is giving inside scoops galore!]

[Update 2 (6:52 am): Given how fired up Momoko Ueda is over Japan's huge victory in the World Baseball Classic, I wonder if we'll be seeing something special this week from the Japanese contingent!]

[Update 3 (12:16 pm): Here's Brent Kelley's preview.]

[Update 4 (1:08 pm): Here's Jay Busbee's case for Karrie Webb as KNC contender.]

[Update 5 (4/2/09, 6:02 am): Nice little piece by Sean Martin n 5 things to watch at the KNC.]

[Update 6 (5:16 pm): Here's Bill Jempty's preview.]

[Update 7 (4/3/09, 12:01 am): Whoops, missed Ryan Ballengee's preview.]

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