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April 2, 2014 | 6:44 p.m.

LPGA creates new Rolex Annika Major Award

Beth Ann Nichols
LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam (right), Rolex Director of Communication Arnaud Boetsch (center) and LPGA Commiishioner Michael Whan talk at a press conference announcing the Rolex Annika Majors Award.
LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam (right), Rolex Director of Communication Arnaud Boetsch (center) and LPGA Commiishioner Michael Whan talk at a press conference announcing the Rolex Annika Majors Award.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Annika Sorenstam’s presence at the majors is building in strength despite retirement. On the eve of the year’s first major, the LPGA announced a new Rolex Annika Major Award that recognizes the LPGA player who performs the best in all five major championships.

“Anytime there’s an award, I think we all want to win the first year,” said Stacy Lewis, winner of two majors.

To be eligible to win the Annika Major Award, a player must win a major in the current season. Players receive points for top-10 finishes, with a first-place finish receiving ...

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Beth Ann Nichols
Karrie Webb, left, helps Stacy Lewis celebrate her 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship win.
Karrie Webb, left, helps Stacy Lewis celebrate her 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship win.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – This year at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the pond is wide open. That one-size-fits-all white robe could be wrapped around the shoulders of any number of players come Sunday.

LPGA Founder Shirley Spork likes Lexi Thompson this week. This year’s champion will be a proven player, Spork said. It’s easy to believe, considering how well so many of the tour’s brightest are playing right now.

While World No. 1 Inbee Park is among the favorites, she’s not a runaway pick. Stacy Lewis has finished top-6 or better at five of six events so ...

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Bill Zimmerman
Inbee Park celebrates after making the final putt to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Inbee Park celebrates after making the final putt to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Among the top groups in this week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, Stacy Lewis and Anna Nordqvist will play early Thursday and late Friday – as will defending champ Inbee Park, alongside Sun Young Yoo – while Lexi Thompson and Azahara Munoz will play late Thursday and early Friday.

Other top pairings include Jessica Korda and Brittany Lincicome early Thursday and late Friday, as well as Paula Creamer and Sandra Gal late Thursday and early Friday.

Here are more facts and figures about the first major of the LPGA season:

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday-Sunday at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

AT STAKE ...

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Beth Ann Nichols
A view of the 18th green Tuesday during a practice round for the Kraft Nabisco Championship at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
A view of the 18th green Tuesday during a practice round for the Kraft Nabisco Championship at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – The scene at Wally’s Desert Turtle on Monday said it all. Twenty-six of the 32 past champions of the Kraft Nabisco Championship and two LPGA founders gathered at a swanky desert spot to celebrate tradition. It was both sentimental and inspiring.

No other tournament on the LPGA schedule could have such a night.

Former LPGA commissioner Charlie Mechem and Amy Alcott gave heartfelt tributes to Dinah Shore. The legendary entertainer and LPGA hero died 20 years ago. Those who never met Shore left Wally’s wishing they had.

Morgan Pressel toasted Solheim captain Juli Inkster, who ...

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Beth Ann Nichols
Yani Tseng, left, and Candie Kung will be teammates for Taiwan in the 2014 International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. (shown here during the 2012 Sybase Match Play).
Yani Tseng, left, and Candie Kung will be teammates for Taiwan in the 2014 International Crown at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Md. (shown here during the 2012 Sybase Match Play).

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Candie Kung didn’t even know her country had a fourth player until late last year. Taiwan qualified as the seventh-seeded team with Hsuan-Yu Yao, a non-member who plays in China, joining LPGA veterans Yani Tseng, Teresa Lu and Kung for the inaugural International Crown.

“This is actually the first time that we actually get to play in a team event, to represent Chinese Taipei in an international event,” Kung said Tuesday at Mission Hills Country Club, site of this week's Kraft Nabisco Championship. “So we're looking forward to it.”

Taiwan (the disputed island nation ...

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March 31, 2014 | 10:02 p.m.

Back injury prompts Pettersen to skip Kraft

Beth Ann Nichols
Suzann Pettersen
Suzann Pettersen

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Suzann Pettersen walked into the fitness trailer Monday afternoon at Mission Hills with a Norwegian film crew recording her every move. It could be a short documentary.

Pettersen confirmed Tuesday morning that she will miss the LPGA's first major tournament of the season, this week's Kraft Nabisco Championship, because of a bulging disk.

"It's so unfortunate that I can't compete this week," Pettersen said in a statement released through the LPGA. "I dearly love this event and would do anything to play. At this point, I just need to be smart and not ...

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Brentley Romine
Lexi Thompson is one of four individuals on the top-seeded U.S. squad for the LPGA's inaugural International Crown.
Lexi Thompson is one of four individuals on the top-seeded U.S. squad for the LPGA's inaugural International Crown.

The LPGA announced the final 32-player field for the inaugural International Crown. Four players each from eight countries will compete in the event, July 24-27 at Caves Valley GC in Owings Mills, Md.

The eight teams are split into two groups and seeded based on the cumulative team score of their four players’ Rolex Ranking.

Here is the list of teams and their respective seeds, as well as the individual participants:

• • •

POOL A

1. UNITED STATES

Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr

4. THAILAND

Pornanong Phatlum, Ariya Jutanugarn, Moriya Jutanugarn, Onnarin Sattayabanphot

5. SPAIN

Azahara Munoz, Beatriz Recari ...

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Categories: Teeing Off, LPGA, Top Stories
Beth Ann Nichols
Paula Creamer finds herself happy on and off the course, getting engaged to Derek Heath and winning her first tournament since 2010.
Paula Creamer finds herself happy on and off the course, getting engaged to Derek Heath and winning her first tournament since 2010.

PHOENIX – Paula Creamer forced Derek Heath to produce his driver’s license on their first date. The Air Force pilot claimed to have been born on the Fourth of July and Creamer, America’s Solheim sweetheart, wanted proof.

“My father was born on Veterans Day,” Heath later added.

This was starting to get a little crazy.

“We found out we were born in the same hospital (in Mountain View, Calif.),” Creamer said at the JTBC Founders Cup of her fiance. If the LPGA had a “bliss” category, Creamer might rank No. 1.

“She has never been radiant like she is ...

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Beth Ann Nichols

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Anna Nordqvist was shaking when it was over. Last year she wanted to quit the game, maybe look into her passion for graphic design. And now here she is three months into the 2014 season and already a two-time winner.

“You know, it's just great sitting here now,” Nordqvist said in the press room. “I’m proud of myself for taking some hard decisions. You know, I worked extremely hard this off‑season ... they had to drag me off the range.”

With a host of top players in the hunt on Sunday at the Kia Classic, Nordqvist ...

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Andy Zunz
Casie Cathrea hopes to qualify for the LPGA Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco.
Casie Cathrea hopes to qualify for the LPGA Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco.

Casie Cathrea earned the chance to qualify for the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic as an amateur, but hopes to play the event as a pro.

Cathrea first announced that she will become a professional golfer via Twitter Saturday and confirmed it with Golfweek on Sunday.

"It's hard not to be excited when you wanted to play pro golf for as long as I have," Cathrea said. "I'm excited to finally get out there and play with the best players in the world, because one of my goals is to be the No. 1 player in the world."

Cathrea ...

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Categories: Amateur, Pro, LPGA, Top Stories
Laura Diaz picked up hole-in-ones on back-to-back days at the Kia Classic.
Laura Diaz picked up hole-in-ones on back-to-back days at the Kia Classic.

CARLSBAD, Calif. –– Laura Diaz had a hole-in-one for the second straight day in the Kia Classic to become the second player in LPGA Tour history to make two aces in a tournament.

Diaz aced the par-3 third hole Saturday in the third round, then holed out on the par-3 sixth on Sunday -- a shot she followed with an eagle on the par-4 seventh. She also had an eagle Saturday on the par-5 fifth.

"I went out today hoping I could get another one," Diaz said. "Just really using my head to see how wild and crazy it could get. Then ...

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Categories: Teeing Off, LPGA, Top Stories
Beth Ann Nichols
Co-leaders Cristie Kerr (left) and Lizette Salas embrace on the 18th hole after the third round of the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif.
Co-leaders Cristie Kerr (left) and Lizette Salas embrace on the 18th hole after the third round of the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif.

CARLSBAD, Calif. – The par on 18 was classic Kerr. Standing in the fairway with an 8-iron in hand, Cristie Kerr stood up on her approach shot – what she later called an anti-hook swing – and watched it sail right, rattling off rocks inside a picturesque hazard. She’d take a penalty drop, and then drain a 60-foot bomb to save par. She raised a fist into the air in triumph.

Talk about a mood swing.

“That’s Kerr,” said Lizette Salas, who played alongside the veteran in the penultimate group Saturday and now shares the lead at 10-under 206 with Kerr ...

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Dori Carter lines up her putt on the 17th green during the second round of the Kia Classic.
Dori Carter lines up her putt on the 17th green during the second round of the Kia Classic.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Dori Carter might have gotten a bit ahead of herself late in the second round of the Kia Classic. She still left everyone else behind Friday.

After birdieing six of the first seven holes on the back nine, Carter bogeyed the final two holes for an 8-under 64. The round was her lowest in competition and broke the Aviara course record.

Winless on the LPGA Tour, the former University of Mississippi player had 11 birdies and three bogeys. At 10-under 134, she had a two-stroke lead over Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr.

"No matter what happens this weekend ...

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Categories: Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, LPGA
Paula Creamer fired a 5-under 67 to hold a share of the lead at the Kia Classic in Round 1.
Paula Creamer fired a 5-under 67 to hold a share of the lead at the Kia Classic in Round 1.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Paula Creamer easily overcame tricky morning wind conditions Thursday in the Kia Classic for a share of the first-round lead with Mariajo Uribe.

Creamer and Uribe shot 5-under 67 at Aviara to finish a stroke ahead of Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Mi Hyang Lee.

"It was swirling a lot," Creamer said about the wind. "It was pretty inconsistent at spots out there, but you just kind of have to trust your wind map or trust and see what's going on out there."

A playoff winner March 2 in Singapore, Creamer had six birdies ...

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Categories: Paula Creamer, LPGA
March 25, 2014 | 10:06 p.m.

Kia Classic: Tee times, first two rounds

Bill Zimmerman
Lydia Ko
Lydia Ko

In the final tune-up before the first major of the 2014 LPGA season, Lydia Ko, Karrie Webb and Azahara Munoz will form one of the top groups in the first two rounds of the Kia Classic.

Karrie Webb, coming off last week's win at the JTBC Founders Cup and leading the Race to the CME Group points list, will tee off late Thursday and early Friday with Ko and Munoz.

In other top groups, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Inbee Park will tee off early Thursday and late Friday, as will Suzann Pettersen, Lizette Salas and Lexi Thompson.

Defending ...

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