It says something about the quality of women's amateur golf that the seven players who were given sponsor's invitations to compete at the LPGA Tour's Kraft Nabisco Championship in March all have previously played in a women's major championship (see chart below).
U.S. Women's Amateur and Women's Amateur Public Links winner Jennifer Song headlines the list of amateur golfers who'll tee it up at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The USC sophomore recently said she intends to turn professional this summer, the same circumstance that college standouts Stacy Lewis and Amanda Blumenherst found themselves in 2008 and 2009, respectively, when they were invited to play in the tournament. Both Lewis and Blumenherst declined their invitations to the Kraft Nabisco, stating that they wanted to keep all their available sponsor's exemptions for when they were professionals in hopes they would win enough money in those events to earn LPGA Tour cards without having to go to Q school.
Asked if he was concerned Song might do the same this time, Kraft Nabisco tournament director Terry Wilcox said that he had sent Song her invitation yesterday and has already received her confirmation. "She evidently is intending, at this time, to play," Wilcox said. "She sounded very anxious to play, so I'm assuming she's going to do it. … Maybe she'll become aware of [what Lewis and Blumenherst did] between now and March and withdraw. I don't know. But as of now she's accepted the invitation."
Song is one of five college players who will compete in the tournament. The others are Auburn senior Candace Schepperle and junior Cydney Clanton, Arizona State freshman Jennifer Johnson and Denver freshman Kimberly Kim.
Two prominent junior golfers—Alexis Thompson and Jessica Korda—round of the list of invitees. Both are likely to be selected in the coming weeks for the 2010 U.S. Curtis Cup team. Korda this past weekend won the South Atlantic Amateur in record fashion, breaking the 85-year-old's mark for best 18-hole score (62) and 72-hole total (13-under 275, eight strokes better than the previous record).