Not much of a surprise to see that Duke's Amanda Blumenherst, Arizona State's Azahara Munoz and UCLA's Tiffany Joh received sponsor's exemptions today into the LPGA's Kraft Nabsico Championship. They are, after all, the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur, NCAA and U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champions, respectively. It's the fourth college player that will be heading to Mission Hills CC in Palm Springs, Calif., the first week of April that was somewhat unexpected: Auburn's Candace Schepperle.
Back-to-back victories at the Dixie Amateur and the Harder Hall Invitational to start the new year didn't hurt the 20-year-old from Birmingham, Ala. (She didn't post a score over par in the two event's eight rounds). That came on top of a solid fall season for the Tigers, where Schepperle had three top-five finishes in four starts and a 71.83 stroke average.
A fifth amateur, U.S. Girls' Junior champion Alexis Thompson, also received an exemption.
Blumenherst finished in 30th place at the tournament a year ago; the rest of the amateurs will be making their Kraft Nabisco debuts. Interestingly, amateurs have posted top-10 finishes in the tournament five times since 2000.