Hooks and Cuts: Krafty Ladies


2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Hall of Fame member and past Kraft Nabisco champion Juli Inkster says the walk up to the 18th green at Mission Hills, around the pond and in front of the grandstands, is “a great goose bump walk if you’re in contention.”

Another Hall of Fame member Amy Alcott, in 1988, was the first to jump into Poppie’s Pond, spurred by her caddie Billy Curry. The tradition stuck when Donna Andrews took the plunge in 1994, and every winner since has made the most coveted leap in the women’s game.

Here are some more Hooks and Cuts from the year's first major:

  • Natalie Gulbis crystallized the winning formula this week – and at every major for that matter. “You really need to drive it well,” she said. “And make your 5-footers.'
  • Christina Kim, assessing her good friend Michelle Wie: “She’s at a great place in her life right now. She’s doing everything she wants. She’s going to college, playing golf and living a normal life, or as normal as you can get when you’re an iconic figure.”
  • Under the heading, 'As It Should Be,' there’s a bronze statue of the late, great Dinah Shore as players cross the bridge at 18. At a time in the early ‘70s, when the women were playing for purses of $30,000, this tournament debuted with a purse of $110,000, thanks to Dinah. Outside of the U.S. Open, this is the most famous tournament the women play, largely because of Dinah’s love for the LPGA.
  • Gulbis echoed the feeling of plenty of American players, saying, “It’s nice to have three domestic events in a row.”
  • On what separates world No. 1 Yani Tseng from her peers, Kim explained that Tseng “swings like Anthony Kim. She goes at it differently. No one compresses the ball like she does.”
  • Tour Championship winner Maria Hjorth of Sweden says the major she’d most like to win is Women’s British Open. You hear the same sentiment from most European men. 
  • Bumped into Grace Park, back after injuries and burnout. She was once the darling of the LPGA.  “I think I would’ve enjoyed my life a little more,” she said of regrets. “Everything revolved around golf. I was like a machine. It almost became regimented instead of doing it for the love of the game. It’s crucial to have balance in your life. Today I appreciate the gift that is this game.
  • With her pint-sized Jesper Parnevik-style hat, Kim could have been doing stand-up comedy as she recounted a shot she hit last week at the Kia Classic: “I shanked a 5-iron into a tree and couldn’t find it. It came down three groups later.” 
  • Two-time Kraft winner Karrie Webb’s resurgent at 36 with two wins already this year. “Her putting cost her last year,” said Hjorth. “But she’s getting her confidence back in her putting and she’s always been a great ball striker.”
  • Park was part of one of the great finishes of the last decade at this event, and there’ve been so many. In 2004, Aree Song, then a rookie, drilled a 30-foot eagle putt on the final hole to tie Park. Park answered with a 6-footer for birdie and the win, her only major.
  • The par-5 finishing hole is a classic risk-reward that makes for great drama. Two years ago, Kristy McPherson led by one and laid up on 18. Brittany Lincicome bucked up from 210 yards and stuffed her second shot to a few feet, holed the eagle putt and won a major.
  • I told Kim I’d pay good money to watch her jump into Poppie’s Pond after a victory. Bold and bawdy, she cracked with a big laugh, “With a white shirt no doubt.”
  • Talented young Spaniard Beatriz Recari was paired with Wie last week at the Kia Classic. Recari’s caddie is Andreas Thorpe, whose brother Marius plays professionally in Europe. Andreas provided this scouting report on Wie: “She hits it a long ways and really works the ball different ways. She plays more like a man. There aren’t many women who hit a stinger 3-wood like Wie. I’ve seen Suzann Petterson and Sophie Gustafson and they’re considered strong hitters, but even they don’t hit the shots that Michelle hits.”
  • The greens are running at a good 12 on the stimpmeter. If the wind blows, and it can in the desert in the afternoon, Mission Hills could be very difficult.
  • This is the 40th playing of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the man who’s really responsible for it is David Foster, the late English war hero who was head of Colgate-Palmolive in the 1970s. He looked at women’s golf as a way to push his household products. Eventually, Foster helped jump start women’s events with Colgate’s backing in Japan and Great Britain.