7 Top LPGA Women to Watch at Kraft Nabisco Championship

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIApril 1, 2013

7 Top LPGA Women to Watch at Kraft Nabisco Championship

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    It still hurts to watch the replay video of the tap-in that I.K. Kim missed on the last hole of the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship. She would have won the tournament outright but instead lost in a playoff with Sun Young Yoo.

    Kim was totally devastated after missing that putt and could not regain her focus for the playoff.

    She has rebounded and is coming off a runner-up finish at the Kia Classic and will be looking to redeem herself at the Kraft Nabisco this year.

    The Kraft Nabisco Championship has been a major on the LPGA Tour since 1983 and has seen some of the top names in women's golf dive into Poppies Pond and hoist the trophy.

    Here is a listing of some of the top women who could contend this week.

Stacy Lewis

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    Stacy Lewis has to be the favorite coming into the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She won this event in 2011 for her first official LPGA Tour win.

    She had won the rain-shortened and unofficial 2007 LPGA NW Arkansas Championship while still an amateur and a student at the University of Arkansas.

    Lewis just overtook Yani Tseng as the No. 1 ranked women's golfer in the world on the Rolex Rankings.

    She already has two wins this year at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore and the RR Donnelley Founders Cup in Phoenix.

    She was named the LPGA Tour's Player of the Year last year and is the first American to win that award since Beth Daniel in 1994.

    Lewis has a solid all-around game, and her confidence is at an all-time high. 

    Look for her to win her second major title and second Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Yani Tseng

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    Although Yani Tseng has fallen to the No. 2 ranking in the world, she is still one of the favorites to win this week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

    She won this event in 2010, was runner-up to Stacy Lewis in 2011 and finished third behind Sun Young Yoo and I.K. Kim last year.

    The pressure of maintaining her No. 1 ranking seemed to weigh on Tseng, and maybe now she can get back to winning majors.

    She is the youngest player, man or woman, to win five major championships.

    She finished runner-up in the first LPGA event of the year the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and was third in the Honda LPGA Thailand.

    Tseng has the game to win the Kraft Nabisco. The only question: Is she mentally ready to win again? 

Paula Creamer

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    Paula Creamer is one of the most popular players on the LPGA Tour. It is hard to believe that her last win came at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.

    She played that week with an injured thumb. Surgery was required to repair damage to the hand, and it has taken some time for Creamer to regain the form that helped her be a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour.

    She just has one top-10 finish in 2013. She finished third in the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore but was T-13 at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup and T-17 at the Kia Classic.

    Creamer is playing solid golf again and appears to be pain free with no lasting effects from her injury.

    The LPGA is definitely on the rise, but it still needs players like Paula Creamer to perform well and win. 

Na Yeon Choi

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    Na Yeon Choi won the 2012 U.S. Women's Open and has been one of the best players on the LPGA Tour over the last two years.

    Since joining the LPGA in 2008, Choi has six wins. In addition to her win at the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, she also won the season ending CME Group Titleholders and finished No. 2 on the LPGA Tour money list with $1.9 million. 

    Choi is currently ranked No. 3 on the Rolex Ranking behind Stacy Lewis and Yani Tseng.

    She is a steady performer with no real weaknesses in her game.

    She likes the big tournaments and the big stage. 

Suzann Pettersen

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    Suzann Pettersen has 10 LPGA Tour wins in her 10 years on tour. She also has six career wins on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

    Pettersen's lone major win came at the 2007 LPGA Championship. 

    She finished 2012 with two wins in October and was ranked No. 9 on the 2012 LPGA Tour money list.

    Pettersen won on the LET in March at the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship.

    Her results thus far on the LPGA Tour for 2013 have not been that impressive. She missed the cut at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup and does not have a top-10 finish in four starts.

    She is one of the most physically fit players on tour and rededicated herself to more wins last year.

    The 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship would be a huge win for her confidence and career.

So Yeon Ryu

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    So Yeon Ryu was not yet an LPGA Tour member when she won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open at the Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs, Colo.

    Just 22 years old, she is yet another of the talented young South Korean golfers who have dominated the LPGA over the past few years.

    Ryu earned her LPGA Tour card for 2012 because of her U.S. Women's Open win and got her second LPGA Tour win at the 2012 Jamie Farr Toledo Classic. She blitzed the field, shooting 20 under par and won by seven shots.

    She had 16 top-10 finishes in 2012 and ended the year ranked No. 6 on the LPGA Tour money list with $1.2 million.

    She is a complete player. A comparison can be drawn between Ryu and Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour.

    Ryu is young and still learning but has plenty of raw talent that will make her one of the most dominant players on the LPGA Tour.

Michelle Wie

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    Michelle Wie is at a crossroads in her golfing career. She is still just 23 years old and has been a professional golfer since 2005. 

    Wie was one of the most celebrated junior golfers of all time. She did win the 2003 Women's Public Links Championship and was the youngest ever to make the cut at the U.S. Women's Open.

    She was too young to become a member of the LPGA. She was happy to take appearance fees and try to qualify for PGA Tour events. That strategy earned her several million dollars but did not prepare her for the rigors of professional golf.

    Her last win came in 2010 at the Canadian Women's Open.

    She has had some success in the past on the Mission Hills Golf Course that hosts the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She was T-9 in 2003, T-4 in 2004 and T-3 in 2006.

    Wie only had one top-10 finish in 2012, earned $158,000 and ranked No. 84 on the money list.

    She is not having a good start in 2013 and has missed three of five cuts thus far.

    This would be a good time for Wie to find her game and become a factor in women's golf.

    The LPGA Tour needs Michelle Wie to succeed and compete on tour.