With Tony Jesselli, Ruthless Mike, and Centurion providing excellent previews of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, I thought I'd take a little time to explain my picks for the LPGA's 1st major of 2014. Beyond my overall ranking of top performers in LPGA majors since 2000 that I shared yesterday, I look at the history of performances in the KNC itself, since it's been played repeatedly at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, as well as for who's hot in early 2014.
Consider the differences and similarities in each.
If you emphasize past history in majors and at the KNC, then former winners Karrie Webb, Ya Ni Tseng, Inbee Park, and Stacy Lewis have to be among your picks, and you would probably be leaning toward Morgan Pressel (another former winner at Mission Hills), So Yeon Ryu, Cristie Kerr, In-Kyung Kim, Catriona Matthew, Amy Yang, and Michelle Wie, while considering Ji-Yai Shin, Se Ri Pak, Na Yeon Choi, Paula Creamer, Eun-Hee Ji, Anna Nordqvist, and Ai Miyazato as possibilities.
If you emphasize who's hot this year, there are lots of measures, from money list to scoring average to birdies per round to putts per green in regulation (both personal favorites of mine) to types of finishes early this season and late last season. Players who ought to be on your radar include Karrie Webb, Anna Nordqvist, Azahara Munoz, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Chella Choi, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Lizette Salas, Gerina Piller, Se Ri Pak, Eun-Hee Ji, Hee Young Park, Jenny Shin, Shanshan Feng, Na Yeon Choi (barring her last 2 starts), Sandra Gal (ditto), Caroline Hedwall (barring her last start), Amy Yang (ditto), So Yeon Ryu (ditto), Lydia Ko (ditto), Pornanong Phatlum (ditto), and Hee-Won Han (ditto).
And don't forget non-members (including young guns and younger guns) like Sakura Yokomine, Lee-Anne Pace, Ha Na Jang, Sei Young Kim, Charley Hull, Minjee Lee, Su-Hyun Oh, Annie Park, and Alison Lee.
Given all that, it's a judgment call, and, frankly, a guess. So here are mine:
4. Park Inbee
9. Choi Chella
10. Lewis, Stacy
Alts: Yang; Korda; Lee Minjee
Just watch: this'll be the week my regular picks like So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, In-Kyung Kim, and Ai Miyazato will surprise me on the upside! Or Ji-Yai Shin and Sakura Yokomine shock me by doing better in the KNC than they have all season on the JLPGA!
So who do you think will put it all together this week?