The Kraft Nabisco Championship will have five of the nation’s top college and amateur players in this year's tournament. Set for March 28 through April 3 at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the upcoming tournament marks the 40th anniversary of the LPGA major.
Danielle Kang, a sophomore at Pepperdine University, won an automatic spot in the Kraft Nabisco field as the reigning USGA Women’s Amateur Champion. The 17-year-old college standout was named the 2010 WCC Freshman of the Year and is currently #1 in the women’s amateur rankings according to GolfWeek magazine (as of Feb. 7, 2011). An early graduate of Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif., Kang qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in 2010 and was the only amateur out of six in the field to make the cut. She also played in the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 14.
According to Gabe Codding, tournament director for the Kraft Nabisco Championship, sponsor invitations have also been extended to Cydney Clanton, Lisa McCloskey, Kristen Park and Meghan Stasi.
Clanton returns to the desert after receiving her second consecutive invitation from tournament officials. Clanton is currently tied for the #2 spot in the amateur rankings with Lisa McCloskey and Meghan Stasi, and is at #7 in the women’s collegiate rankings. The 22-year-old star for the Tigers is a native of Concord, N.C., where she attended Concord High School. A member of the 2010 Curtis Cup Team, Clanton was named a First-Team All-American by the National Golf Coaches Association and was selected for the All-SEC First Team in 2010.
McCloskey, a junior at the University of Southern California, also received an invitation to play in the first LPGA major of the year. In addition to being tied for #2 in the amateur rankings, McCloskey is ranked #4 in the NCAA rankings. Her successful 2010 season included finishing second in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in June and second in the Women’s North & South Amateur Championship in July. A native of Montgomery, Texas, McCloskey was the WCC Freshman Player of the Year for the 2008-2009 season.
Park, a Southern California native from Buena Park, Calif., and a 17-year-old senior at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif., is one of the top junior amateurs in the world. Park was named the 2010 Rolex Junior Player of the Year and a five-time Rolex All-American. She won three events in 2010: the Rolex Tournament of Champions, the Ping Invitational and the Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship. Currently ranked #2 in the GolfWeek junior rankings, she played in the 2008 and 2009 U.S. Women’s Opens. Park has committed to the University of Southern California after graduation.
Stasi, a 32-year-old amateur from Oakland Park, Fla., is currently tied for second in the women’s amateur rankings. The former golf coach at the University of Mississippi won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur tournament for the third time in 2010 (she won it as Meghan Bolger in 2006 and 2007). Stasi also placed fifth at the Sally Golf Tournament last year, tied for ninth at the 2010 Harder Hall Women’s Invitational and made the semi-finals in last year’s Women’s British Open Championship.
The 40th anniversary of the Kraft Nabisco Championship will continue the tournament’s history of inviting outstanding amateurs who have demonstrated strong, consistent play over several years to compete in the LPGA’s first major of the year. Many of the world’s top professional women golfers played as amateurs at the Kraft Nabisco Championship including Lorena Ochoa, Grace Park, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Aree Song and Michelle Wie. For more information on the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, please call 760/324-4546 or go to www.KNCGOLF.com. Or follow the tournament at ww.facebook.com/KNCGolf or www.twitter.com/KNCGolf