AUBURN, AL – Auburn senior Cydney Clanton will take a break from her collegiate schedule this week as she travels to Rancho Mirage, Calif., to compete in the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship. It is the second appearance in the LPGA major championship for Clanton.
Now in its 40th year of existence, the Kraft Nabisco Challenge is one of the LPGA's major championships. The event began in 1972 as the Colgate Dinah Shore and became a major in 1983. The tournament is played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club.
Clanton is one of six amateurs competing in the 113-player field. Other amateurs include Ariya Jutanugarn, a junior golfer from Thailand; Danielle Kang, a sophomore at Pepperdine; Lisa McCloskey, a junior at Southern California; Kristen Park a high school senior and Southern California signee; and Meghan Stasi, a 32-year-old amateur who competed collegiately at Tulane.
After having what she considers a down year so far this season, Clanton is honored to be selected to return to the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"It is more of a redeeming thing," said Clanton. "I didn't play as well as would have liked to this year, so it is a great honor for me to be here. My plan is to play professionally next year, so this is another great opportunity to see course and playing with my future competitors is a great thing. I am excited about coming back and playing again."
Clanton was on pace last year to make the cut after a first-round 75, but a second-round 80 dropped her below the line. This time around, she has a better idea of what to expect.
"Being there before, you know what to expect out of the golf course and what you need to do to prepare," said Clanton. "A lot to this golf course is hitting the fairways and the greens, and being mentally prepared because it is a tough golf course. It is not going to be a simple and sweet golf day, you are going to get bogeys, but you have to know the birdies are coming, too."
She will also have a familiar face on the golf course with her this time. Clanton, who is a native of Concord, N.C., will have fellow North Carolinian and teammate Madison Overbey caddying for her this week. Overbey, a sophomore on the Auburn women's golf team, is from High Point, N.C.
"Madison caddied for me a lot last summer, she has been on the bag quite a bit," said Clanton. "It is fun being together on the golf course and will be more relaxing this go-around. Madison knows what I like on the course and can can help me relax and stay in the zone and play my own game."
With 113 of the best players in the LPGA and a field that includes eight former champions, finishing at the top of the field will be no easy task. But, even with all the talent on the course, Clanton says the toughest challenge is the golf course,
"The golf course is playing pretty tough this year and is in really good shape, tougher than last year," said Clanton. "The roughs are up, the greens are really quick and will be very challenging – it will require a lot out of everyone's game."
Action for the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship will begin on Thursday, March 31 and will run through Sunday, April 3. The Golf Channel will air exclusive coverage each day from Rancho Mirage.
Clanton will tee off at 9:32 a.m. CT, Thursday in the first round, playing with Meaghan Francella. Fans can follow along with live scoring at www.LPGA.com.