LPGA kicks off first major of season at Mission Hills

The first major on any U.S. domestic tour takes place at the LPGA’s 43rd Kraft Nabisco Championship, April 1-6 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. From LPGA pros to pros on other global tours like the Ladies European Tour, KLPGA and JLPGA, to amateur golfers, the tournament will feature the finest assembly of talent from around the world.

Annually, the Kraft Nabisco Championship is the first of five major championships on the LPGA Tour. The $2 million tournament features the top 115 women’s golfers in the world, representing 28 different countries, and awards a $300,000 winner’s prize.

Inbee Park, the world’s No. 1 player in women’s golf, won last year’s tournament with a score of 15-under-par 273. She took the famous, celebratory leap into Poppie’s Pond and was awarded the champions white robe alongside the 18th green. Park recognized the Kraft Nabisco Championship victory and the jump into the pond as her best and favorite on-course memory of her career.

Park’s victory set into motion a historic run in women’s golf. Park went on to become the first player in the modern era to win the LPGA’s first three major championships in a year (also the Wegmans LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open). She became the first South Korean in LPGA history to win the Rolex Player of the Year and won the LPGA money title for the second-consecutive year.

Including Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Lydia Ko, Karrie Webb, Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda, Lizette Salas, Beatriz Recari and Natalie Gulbis, every top player and marquee name in women’s golf will spend the week playing on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Seventy-two holes and four rounds of tournament play commences on Thursday, April 3.

The Kraft Nabisco Championship features nine of the world’s top amateur golfers, led by reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion Emma Talley, the top three amateur players in the world — 17-year-old Australian Minjee Lee, USC sophomore Annie Park and UCLA freshman Alison Lee, of Valencia – and Arcadia High School freshman Angel Yin, who won the 2013 KNC Champions Junior Challenge to qualify for last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Tickets and information on the Kraft Nabisco Championship can be obtained at www.kncgolf.com. Daily tickets for the Kraft Nabisco Championship begin at $25 (at the gate). Active duty, Reserve and retired military receive free admission (must show valid military ID) and kids 17 and under are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult.

Kraft Nabisco Championship week begins on the golf course on Monday, March 31 with the third-annual KNC Champions Junior Challenge, which pairs top California female junior golfers with LPGA legends and past KNC winners for an inspirational round of golf on the Arnold Palmer Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage.

The KNC Champions Junior Challenge will reward the junior low amateur of the competition with a sponsor’s invitation to play in the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Past KNC champions playing in the event include Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez.

Last year, Yin fired a 5-under par 67 to win the KNC Champions Junior Challenge at age 14. She was coached by World Golf Hall of Fame member Donna Caponi. Yin went on to make the cut and finish T55 in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The tournament holds the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am presented by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation on Wednesday, April 2. The Kraft Nabisco Championship continues to strengthen its philanthropic ties to the Coachella Valley by making the newly merged Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation the principal charitable beneficiary of the 2014 tournament.

This pact aligns, for the first time, the iconic legacies of honorary LPGA members Dinah Shore (also a World Golf Hall of Famer) and Betty Ford after 28 years. Net proceeds from the Kraft Nabisco Pro-Am will underwrite financial assistance for patients at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage.

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