Among the four collegians (and six amateurs overall) invited this week to play in the Kraft Nabisco Championship: Kentucky's Mallory Blackwelder. The 20-year-old junior, winner of the Women's Western Amateur and runner-up at the Women's Trans-National last summer, has some connection to the LPGA's first major, thanks to her family.
Her mother, current Lady Wildcat coach Myra, played in the event 11 times during her career on the LPGA Tour, recording two top-10 finishes (T-7 in 1985; T-10 in 1986). Myra led the then Colgate Dinah Shore in 1981 after an opening-round 66 but was done in by a third-round 77 that included a two-stroke penalty for catching a lift in an NBC cart to use a restroom.
Meanwhile, Blackwelder's father, Worth, a veteran caddie on the LPGA Tour, has had even more success in Palm Springs. He was on the bag of Juli Inkster when she won the tournament by five strokes over JoAnne Carner in 1989.
Of course, the question begs to be asked: Will Worth be caddieing for Mallory come March? Dad says no, with Mallory already has hired Rob Hart (husband of LPGA player Marcy Hart) as her loop. Worth will again be on Inkster's bag.
In addition to Blackwelder, U.S. Women's Amateur champion Maria Jose Uribe of UCLA, two-time college player of the year Amanda Blumenherst of Duke and Arizona senior Alison Walshe are the collegians named to the field with Mina Harigae, who plans to enroll at Duke in the fall, and__Kimberly Kim__, the 2006 Women's Amateur champion, rounding out the amateur selections. Blumenherst, Walshe, Harigae and Kim also were named to the U.S. Curtis Cup team earlier this week.
Absent from the invite list was NCAA champion Stacy Lewis of Arkansas, who finished T-5 at the Kraft Nabisco a year ago and thus had automatically qualified for the event. Lewis declined her spot, according to a source, in order not to use up one of her six exemptions before turning pro sometime this summer.