RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — Defending champion Inbee Park and Singapore winner Paula Creamer were disappointed to see the short rough at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“It’s a shame it’s not 5 inches,” Creamer said. “Definitely, you can hit a 5-iron out of the rough if you do hit it in there. The greens, I’m sure, will get faster as the weekend comes around. They’re so green. I’ve never seen this golf course so green and lush.”
The rough is only 2-3 inches, taking away a big advantage for straight hitters.
“This golf course, I think, definitely needs more rough,” Park said. “It’s a major. We’re used to seeing narrow fairways on this golf course. I still feel there is a rough still, but it’s not as long. Even if you’re in the rough, you can go at the green. Last few years you couldn’t go at the green. You just had to punch it out.
“Obviously, how I’ve been striking the ball, I really want it to be longer. … It opens up a little bit more to the field. A lot more players can win now.”
In Singapore, Creamer made a breaking, downhill 75-foot eagle putt on the second extra hole to beat Azahara Munoz in the HSBC Women’s Champions.
“I get to show my kids that one day,” Creamer said. “When they say, `I’m not cool,’ I can say, `I did this, though.'”
The victory was her 10th on the tour and first since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.
STUCK IN SECOND: Third-ranked Stacy Lewis has five runner-up finishes since winning the Women’s British Open in August.
“I definitely would have liked some more wins, especially in the last six months or so, but I feel like I’m moving in the right direction,” said Lewis, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco winner for the first of her eight LPGA Tour titles.
The Texan has finished in the top 10 in 15 of the last 16 tournaments she has completed. After her top-10 streak ended at 13 with a tie for 40th in Singapore, she tied for second two weeks ago in Phoenix and tied for sixth last week in Carlsbad.
“Last week, I didn’t feel like I played my best golf, but I still had a chance going into Sunday,” Lewis said. “That’s what I’m really proud of.”
She has been thinking about the Kraft Nabisco for months.
“Probably in December, as soon as the year is over,” Lewis said. “I work all offseason to get ready for the majors and to be peaking at the right time, to get ready for this week.”
ANNIKA MAJOR AWARD: The major champion who earns the most points in the five major championships will receive the Rolex Annika Major Award.
Annika Sorenstam won 10 major titles during her Hall of Fame career.
“Who better than Annika Sorenstam to represent the best in performances, at the biggest events,” LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said in announcing the award.
Points will be awarded to the top 10 at the five tournaments, with a victory worth 60 points, second 24, third 18, down to two for 10th.
Sorenstam was asked if she was responsible for requiring a player to win one the events to be eligible for the award.
“I had a little bit to do with that,” Sorenstam said.
The winner will get $100,000 and a watch.
AMATEUR LINEUP: Nelly Korda, Bahamas winner Jessica Korda’s 15-year-old sister, is one of nine amateurs in the field.
The younger Korda tied for 67th last summer in the U.S. Women’s Open. Her father, former tennis star Petr Korda, is working as her caddie.
Korda is paired with Charley Hull, the 18-year-old English player who played in the Solheim Cup last year and won her first pro title last month in Morocco.
Korda is joined in the field by four other junior players – 15-year-old Angel Yin, 16-year-old Brooke Henderson, and 17-year-old Australians Minjee Lee and Su Hyun Oh.
Lee, ranked 110th in the world, will be part of Australia’s four-player team in the International Crown in July at Caves Valley in Maryland.
Alabama’s Emma Talley, the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, also is playing along with Southern California’s Annie Park – the NCAA champion – and UCLA’s Alison Lee and Clemson’s Ashlan Ramsey. Stanford’s Mariah Stackhouse turned down a spot because of a conflict with a college tournament.
TOP PAIRINGS: Defending champion Inbee Park will play alongside 2012 winner Sun Young Yoo the first two rounds.
They will open Thursday morning on the 10th tee, followed by the groups of Lydia Ko-Ai Miyazato, Stacy Lewis-Anna Nordqvist, Cristie Kerr-So Yeon Ryu, Jessica Korda-Brittany Lincicome, and Na Yeon Choi-Yani Tseng.
Karrie Webb is paired with Lizette Salas in an afternoon group that will start on No. 1. Other top afternoon pairings include Michelle Wie-Angela Stanford, Lexi Thompson-Azahara Munoiz, and Paula Creamer-Sandra Gal.
DIVOTS: Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen withdrew Tuesday because of an aggravated disk in her back. The Norwegian also withdrew last week before the Kia Classic. … Hall of Famer Amy Alcott is making her 36th start in the tournament at age 58. She won in 1983, 1988 and 1991. In 1988, she became the first player to take the now-traditional victory leap into Poppie’s Pond.