Grace Park's defense of her first major championship might turn out to be shorter than expected ... like not at all.
Park hasn't swung a club since back pain prompted her to withdraw Sunday from the LPGA tournament at Phoenix. She said Tuesday that the injury that caused her to sit out the first day of the pro-am at the Kraft Nabisco Championship also might prevent her from playing Thursday, when the $1.8-million event begins at Mission Hills Country Club at Rancho Mirage.
"I'm just hoping to get better," she said. "I'm waiting day by day to see if I can play."
Park injured her back three weeks ago at the LPGA tournament in Mexico and took 10 days off, but noticed only minor improvement. At Phoenix, she was tied for ninth after three rounds, then reinjured her back Sunday morning and decided she couldn't play.
Instead, Park visited an acupuncturist, who was able to get her to stand up straight.
She described the injury as involving muscles and joints and said it was "bad" and "painful." She said that unless the sharp pain and pinching sensations went away, she would not be able to play.
If Park cannot take part in today's pro-am, she could be disqualified from the Kraft Nabisco, the LPGA's first major championship of the year.
To take care of her back, Park skipped the pro-am last week at Phoenix, then didn't play the pro-am Tuesday at Mission Hills. LPGA rules state that a third missed pro-am, regardless of the reason, means disqualification.
Park is already subject to a fine for sitting out her second pro-am, but LPGA officials said she was entitled to petition LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw as part of an appeal process.
Park didn't sound inclined to consider such an action. "Rules are rules," she said. "I'm not going to fight the rules."
Last year marked a breakthrough for Park, 26, who won twice, was second seven times, earned $1.5 million to place second on the money list and had the best scoring average of her five-year career, 69.99.
Her back has long been a problem.
"It's very frustrating, but what can you do?" she said. "Maybe I practiced too hard, used up my back too much.
"I swing too hard. But I like outdriving people. Hopefully, I'll get my back better."
* What: Kraft Nabisco Championship.
* When: Thursday through Sunday.
* Where: Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage.
* Television: ESPN2 (Thursday-Friday, 2-4 p.m.) and Channel 7 (Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m.).
* 2004 champion: Grace Park.