WITH Suzann Pettersen missing out due to back trouble, Scot Catriona Matthew will be one of the players carrying Europe’s main hopes in this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the season’s opening major.
Since finishing third in the LPGA Tour’s event in Thailand earlier in the season, Matthew has mixed some brilliance – a six-under 66 in the opening round of the Founders Cup a fortnight ago – with some uncharacteristic slackness.
The world No 13, however, has shown a knack of rising to these big occasions, as illustrated when she won the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open and, more recently, lost in a play-off to Inbee Park in last year’s LPGA Championship.
World No 1 Park sets out at Rancho Mirage in California today in the first of her three major title defences this season and is trying to become the first player to record back-to-back jumps into Poppie’s Pond since Annika Sorenstam did it in 2001 and 2002.
Park has made a hot start in 2014 with four-straight top-10 finishes, including a tie for sixth last week at the Kia Classic.
Another past champion who has been having an impressive season is Australian Karrie Webb. The 2000 and 2006 winner is riding high after victories at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and aforementioned Founders Cup.