Kia Classic begins in Carlsbad's Aviara Gold Club: Yani Tseng dropped from tournament

Defending champ missed pro-am tee time

CARLSBAD, Calif. - The $1.7 million Kia Classic begins Thursday at its new home, the Aviara Golf Club at the Park Hyatt Resort, without defending champion Yani Tseng.

Tseng, whose 109-week reign atop the Rolex Women's Golf Rankings ended Monday, was dropped from the tournament after missing her 9:10 a.m. pro-am tee time on Wednesday.

"I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't feeling well last night and accidentally overslept and missing my tee time for the pro-am this morning," the Taiwan native said in a statement released Wednesday.

"I was extremely excited to compete this week to defend my title at the Kia Classic and to try to regain the No. 1 spot. This was an unfortunate mistake and I want to apologize to Kia, my sponsors and all of my fans."

Tseng wrote on her Twitter account that her alarm did not go off, her caddy tried to call her, but her cellphone was dead and she plans on buying a new alarm clock to "make sure I wake up on time."

Under LPGA Tour rules, a player late for her designated pro-am starting time who does not arrive at her official group before the first player on her pro-am team tees off on the second hole is withdrawn from that week's tournament.

The tournament was moved from the La Costa Resort and Spa, where it was held in 2010 and 2012, because of planned renovations to its South Course, tournament director Dennis Baggett told U-T San Diego.

The 7,007-yard Aviara Golf Club, designed by Arnold Palmer, was named by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine as one of the best resort golf courses in America and the top golf resort in San Diego by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

"I think it is a great course," said Paula Creamer, 11th on the Rolex Women's Golf Rankings. "I think the fairways are very generous. Obviously they're huge greens, but you have to hit it in the right section or else you're going to have some impossible putts out there.

"There's no hole that's the same and that's pretty nice when you're a golfer and you can go out and every hole requires something different."

Creamer called the course's four par-3 holes "some of the most beautiful par 3s I've seen."

Stacy Lewis, who moved atop the rankings with her victory in the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix on Sunday, leads the 144-player field.

"Stacy is playing the best golf right now and deserves that spot," Creamer said.

Lewis spent nearly seven years in a back brace and underwent surgery during her senior year of high school to insert a rod and screws on her spine to overcome scoliosis.

"I'm having a blast on the golf course and to be No. 1 in the world, it's what everybody out here on tour is working for," said Lewis, who has won each of her last two tournaments. "I couldn't have dreamed that the kid who grew up wearing a back brace is the No. 1 player in the world."

The tournament runs through Sunday. The champion will receive $255,000.

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