Les Bailey is the senior editor of Pro Golf Now. He will be bringing you a weekly post on FanSided.com, but for more of his work be sure to check out Pro Golf Now for all of the latest golf news, results and rumors.
As most of the world is waiting for next week’s Masters Championship, and the return of The World’s Number one golfer, Tiger Woods, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and overlook this weekend. There are some fine tournaments lined up to feed your golfing appetite including the year’s first Major Championship for the ladies, and one last chance for one PGA golfer to punch a ticket to Augusta.
The Kraft Nabisco Championship kicked off on Thursday morning at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. The tournament is contested on The Dinah Shore Championship Course, and will culminate on Sunday afternoon with someone taking the traditional swim in Poppies Pond, which is the lake around the 18th green.
You might remember last year when Sun Young Yoo won in a one hole playoff after I.K. Kim missed one of the shortest putts in history for a win at the 72nd hole. Kim missed the 27 inch putt for the win, and was so dazed, she just didn’t perform in the playoff.
Stacy Lewis comes into Rancho Mirage for the first time as the Number one player in Rolex Rankings, looking to win her second major. She won here in 2010 for her first and only major. She reached the number one ranking after a good start to the 2013 season, and her win at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix. Previous number one, Yani Tseng played well in the early part of the season, but has run on slow times since the tour came back to the US. She missed a tee time for the ProAm at the KIA Classic two weeks ago, and was disqualified.
The field at the Nabisco consists of some 15 amateurs who will be looking for Championship tournament experience. The most popular is 15-year-old Lydia Ko from New Zealand. Ko does not have status on the LPGA Tour, but is fighting with the decision to turn pro, or take her talent to the collegiate level. Sources have her going on to college first.
The PGA Tour makes the final stop prior to the Masters for The Valero Texas Open at the AT&T Oaks Course in San Antonio, Texas. The Shell Houston Open is the traditional stop prior to the Masters, but something to do with Easter coming early, the Valero was added this year. Everything will return to normal next year.
The hottest player coming into this week is Flordia Gator, Billy Horschel. The 132nd rank player from Grant, Florida finished tied for second last week in Houston in an effort to gain entry to Augusta, but will need a win. There are no more berths available via standings, only a victory this week.
The world number two player, Rory McIlroy added the Texas Open to his schedule after making his first legitimate cut at Houston, and is trying to get his game to a point where he can compete at the PGA’s first major next week. He has struggled since revealing his new deal with Nike in Abu Dhabi back in January,
Speculation has the new equipment to be the source of his problems, but swing flaws, and rust on his golf game, in my opinion, is at the heart of his woes. Maybe girlfriend problems. He has spent precious practice time trying to keep up with his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and her schedule. After a pretty good final round at Doral, where he shot his finest round of the year, he blew off invitations to Bay Hill, and Tampa in lieu of attending Wozniacki’s tournament in Miami.
Nineteen year old Texas phenom, Jordan Spieth is in the field this week looking for a win, and trip to Augusta. Spieth has been awarded a year-long sponsors exemption on the PGA Tour after he cracked the $500,000 level in his early starts. He finished T 7 at the Tampa Bay Championship, but won the lion’s share of his needed money with a second place finish at the Puerto Rico Open. He didn’t fare too well in Houston last week, where he finished T 50, but will be playing his early rounds at Texas with Rory McIlroy, and WGC-Match Play Champion, Matt Kuchar.
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