The LPGA’s brightest global stars shine at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

 

Posted by: mike June 29th, 2017

by Eloise Trainor

 

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, the second LPGA Major of the year, takes place this week at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, IL.  Formerly known as the LPGA Championship, the tournament was established in 1955 and is the second longest running event on the LPGA Tour.  Past tournament winners reads like a Who’s Who in golf - Marlene Hagge, Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, Meg Mallon, Juli Inkster, Se Ri Pak, Annika Sorenstam, to name a few.  KPMG stepped up to the plate and really elevated this major championship when they became the title sponsor in 2015 increasing the purse by more than one million dollars.

The venue, Olympia Fields Country Club, established in 1915, has two 18-hole championship courses, both ranked in top 50 course ratings.  The North course, par 70, is where the championship will be played, favoring the longer hitters at more than 7,000 yards.  This historic layout with a $3.5 million purse will be a major showdown for the LPGA’s brightest stars.

The defending champion of the KPMG is Canadian Brooke Henderson who won her first major at the tender age of 18 becoming the event’s second youngest winner while moving her to second in the world rankings.  Henderson with four wins on the LPGA, is trending in the right direction after a string of disappointing finishes this season, capturing a timely victory at the 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic just ten days ago. Will she be contending for her second major?KPMG

On Monday, So Yeon Ryu, age 26, became the 11th player number one ranked player in the Women’s World Rankings by virtue of winning her fifth LPGA title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Ryu works with the same swing coach as Jordan Spieth, Cameron McCormick, who also posted a victory this past Sunday at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, CT. The South Korean replaces Ariya Jutanugarn who held the top ranking for two weeks.

In 2016, Jutanugarn burst into the LPGA limelight as the first player in history to have the first three wins of her career come in consecutive tournaments. By year's end, Jutanugarn had stacked up five victories including her first major, the Ricoh Women's British Open.  She won Rolex Player of the Year, the Race to the CME Globe and the LPGA money title. In the process, Jutanugarn also bumped the world’s number one player from her perch, Lydia Ko.  Ko was the youngest player on either tour to achieve the number one ranking back in February 2015 at 17 years old and had a firm grip on that top spot until a few weeks ago.  Ko has struggled in 2017 slipping to third in the world rankings after a 25th place finish last weekend.

Who else should you be watching?  There have been 17 tournaments so far in 2017 with 16 different tournament winners.  Only So Yeon Ryu has two wins and leads the WWGR going into this week.  The top six world ranked LPGA players are: So Yeon Ryu (South Korea) Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Lexi Thompson (United States), In Gee Chun (South Korea) and Shanshan Feng (China) proving the LPGA has truly established itself as the world tour.

Lurking not far behind in the seventh position is Inbee Park.  Keep an eye on this former No. 1 ranked player with her unique and effortless swing, who has won this championship three years in a row.  The South Korean is only the second player, after Annika Sorenstam, to accomplish this feat and is also the youngest player to win the U.S. Women’s Open.  Park is the seventh LPGA player to win four different majors during her career and capture the career Grand Slam.  This woman knows how to win majors!

The KPMG leaderboard will be jam packed with major talent and personalities.  As this season has proven so far, the plethora of youngsters on tour are capable of challenging any of the veteran players. Any one of the players from the previously mentioned World Rankings could hoist the trophy come Sunday. Throw into the mix Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Anna Nordqvist, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis and the second LPGA major of the year will be Must See TV for golf fans worldwide.

And if you happen to miss the KPMG, you can look forward to the next three LPGA majors: the US Women’s Open, July 13 -16 in Bedminster, NJ; the British Women’s Open, August 3 - 6 in Kingsbarns, UK; and the Evian Championship, September 14 - 17 in Evian-les-Bain's, France.

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Eloise Trainor, founded of the FUTURES Golf Tour, in 1980 out of the need for women golfers to gain professional playing experience as an avenue to the LPGA Tour.  In 2000, the FUTURES Tour became the LPGA's official development tour, now known as the Symetra Tour.  Today Eloise, is the Co-owner and Director of Business Development for eduKaytion Golf and the Home of Golf 8.5, a premier golf instruction company.