The season's first
Top-ranked Inbee Park returns to defend her victory in the four-round event at Mission Hills Country Club, one of three major tournaments that the 25-year-old South Korean won in 2013.
But two other golfers — Hall of Famer Karrie Webb and Anna Nordqvist — arrive in the desert with momentum to challenge Park and the rest of the 111-player field, which includes 10 amateurs.
Webb won the JTBC Founders Cup event two weeks ago in Phoenix and the 39-year-old Australian is a two-time winner of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in 2000 and 2006.
"Starting the year off as well as I have, it gives me that little bit of confidence going into this week that if I get things going, hopefully down the stretch on Sunday I'll have a shot to win it again," Webb told reporters Tuesday.
Nordqvist, a 26-year-old Swede, won the Kia Classic last weekend in Carlsbad for her second victory in her last four
Suzann Pettersen, the No. 2-ranked player behind Park, also was expected to contend for her first Kraft Nabisco victory and its $300,000 winners' prize. But Pettersen, citing back pain from an "aggravated disk," withdrew from the event Tuesday, the second consecutive week she was forced to sit out a tournament because of back problems.
Two other leading entrants are the No. 3-ranked player, Stacy Lewis, who won the Kraft Nabisco in 2011, and 16-year-old phenom Lydia Ko, who's ranked fourth.
Ko, born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, became the youngest winner in LPGA history in 2012 when she won the CN Canadian Women's Open as an amateur at age 15. She won the event again last year before turning pro and joining the LPGA Tour.
Ko told reporters Tuesday that she didn't have "a specific number or placing" as a goal for this weekend's tournament but that "I just want to have a really good start. I've been struggling with that good start the last couple weeks."
This is the 43rd edition of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which always has been held at Mission Hills.
Many still refer to the event as "the Dinah Shore" because the entertainer — who died in 1994 — co-founded the tournament in 1972 and initially it was called the Colgate Dinah Shore. The tournament officially became one of the LPGA's majors in 1983.
It's also tradition for the winner to jump into Poppie's Pond next to the 18th green, a tradition started by Amy Alcott after she won the event in 1988.