Na Yeon Choi and Suzann Pettersen Lead at LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIApril 5, 2013

Na Yeon Choi won the 2012 U.S. Women's Open
Na Yeon Choi won the 2012 U.S. Women's OpenAndy Lyons/Getty Images

The LPGA Tour is holding the first major championship of the 2013 season this week in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The old Dinah Shore started in 1972 and has been a major since 1983.

Na Yeon Choi and Suzann Pettersen find themselves tied atop the leaderboard with relative unknown Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

Ewart Shadoff is from England and joined the LPGA in 2011. She made 18 cuts in 21 starts in 2012, earned $217,000 and finished the year ranked No. 56 on the LPGA Tour money list.

She carded two birdies and one bogey on the front nine and then posted four consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-14 on the back side before making bogey at No. 16 for her four-under-par 68.

This is a totally new experience for Ewart Shadoff, as her best finish previously was T-7 in the 2012 Kia Classic.

Na Yeon Choi is ranked No. 3 in the world and won the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. She has been one of the top players on the LPGA Tour for the last two years.

Choi had 10 top-10 finishes in 2012, won $1.9 million and ended the year at No. 2 on the LPGA Tour money list. She had a T-7 in her first event of 2013the Honda LPGA Thailandand was runner-up to Stacy Lewis the next week in the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

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She is a proven winner and should be around to contend for her second major victory Sunday.

Pettersen was runner-up at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2007, 2008 and 2010. She is one of the most physically fit players on the LPGA and has a solid all-around game.

She won the 2007 LPGA Championship for her lone major trophy and has 10 wins on the LPGA Tour as well as six titles on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

She finished 2012 strong with wins at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship and the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in October. 

Pettersen is ranked No. 8 on the Rolex Rankings but has not had a top-10 finish thus far in 2013 on the LPGA Tour. She did win on the LET at the 2013 Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China in March.

World No. 1 Stacy Lewis posted a one-over-par 73 for her first round. Former world No. 1 Yani Tseng had a solid first round with an even-par 72.

Seventy-nine players were at three over par or better. It appears that the cut will be at five or six over par after 36 holes.

It may prove difficult for the unproven Ewart Shadoff to hang with veterans Choi and Pettersen going forward, but a top-10 finish would be a confidence boost for her.

Choi and Pettersen need another major title on their resumes, and a win would move them up in the Rolex Rankings.