World Number 8 Suzann Pettersen of Norway

There is strong Ladies European Tour contingent at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California for this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, with 31 LET members in the first Major Championship of the 2013 season.

Led by World Number 8 Suzann Pettersen of Norway, the LET challenge for the $300,000 first prize will include four players inside the World’s Top 20.

Catriona Matthew of Scotland (13) is joined by Azahara Munoz of Spain (15) and Amy Yang of South Korea (17), while LET member Lexi Thompson of the USA (23) is also in the tournament field.

Rolex Ranking No. 26 Beatriz Recari from Spain, who won the Kia Classic a fortnight ago, is joined by Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (30) and both players are currently poised to qualify for The 2013 European Solheim Cup Team from the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

The 2013 European Solheim Cup Team will consist of 12 members of the Ladies European Tour including the top four from the LET Solheim Cup points ranking, the next top four members from the Rolex Rankings and a further four players picked by the European Solheim Cup Team Captain Liselotte Neumann.

At this week’s Major Championship, Solheim Cup points will be awarded to any eligible European players finishing inside the top 20 with more points available than at a standard LET ranking event.

The winner can earn 80 points while there are 60 points available for the runner-up, which could see a significant change to the team.

Karine Icher of France (32), Germany’s Sandra Gal (38), Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (39) and Italian Giulia Sergas (54) are all within striking distance.

Meanwhile, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (42), Masson (59) and Lindberg (112) will all be looking to consolidate their current top four ranking in the line-up for the European team.

They are joined in the field by fellow LET members Jessica Korda, Pornanong Phatlum, Lindsey Wright, Julieta Granada, Karin Sjodin, Christel Boeljon, Maria Hjorth, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, Sophie Gustafson, Cindy LaCrosse, Karen Stupples, Belen Mozo and Alison Walshe.

Top European Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) has had some close calls at Mission Hills Country Club and is hoping to finally get the chance to make the leap into Poppie’s Pond for the first time in her 11-year career. Pettersen has had three runner-ups at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (T2- 2007, T2- 2008, 2nd- 2010) and is hoping to channel some recent success from another Mission Hills into her performance this week.

Pettersen, who won the LET’s Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China last month, said it was good to get her competitive adrenaline pumping early in the season.

“It was nice,” said Pettersen. “I actually went down to China to make sure I could play on the Solheim team without getting a pick. You know what?  I just took it as another opportunity to work on my game, get some low rounds, and ended up in a good fight with Inbee Park coming down the stretch. Just nice to feel the heart pumping having to hit shots and make putts coming down the stretch.  Was lucky enough to get another W in Asia.”

Pettersen, whose only major championship victory came back in 2007 at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, said despite some close calls at Kraft, it is always an event circled on her calendar.

“It’s always one of the highlights of the year coming here,” said Pettersen. “Everything I’ve done prior to this has been with this in mind. I have a lot of great memories on this course.  It’s one of those courses you just come to that just suits your eye.  A lot of the tee shots, I like what I see.  You have to shape the ball somehow off the tee, and when the greens firm up you have to be able to hit certain shots to hold certain pin locations.

“I’ve had a few tough defeats here, but I’ve also gained a lot of experience here,” she said. “So I kind of feel like this is one of my favorite majors of the year.”