With the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship set to get underway later Thursday, here are three storylines to watch heading into the LPGA’s final major tournament before the Olympics.
One last shot to make the Olympic Dream a reality
With Olympic qualifying ending on June 28, this is the last opportunity for the world’s best golfers to make a run at the 60-player competition in Tokyo. The top 15 players in the world are eligible for the Olympics, including up to four players from a single country. The other 45 golfers are placed according to the rankings, with a maximum of two players allowed per nation.
One golfer to keep an eye on? Ally Ewing, ranked 18th, is just outside of eligibility status with four American players sitting ahead of her. She’s already seen the winner’s circle this year, having won the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play back in May. A victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship would vault Ewing into the final Olympic spot over fourth-place Jessica Korda, who is ranked 13th and hopes to join sister Nelly in Tokyo.
Watch out for the first-timers
The seven winners of the past seven majors were all first-time champions, something that has never happened before in women’s golf. If the trend is to continue, look for those searching for their first major win to make a statement at this week’s tournament.
Yuka Saso is the most recent first-time major winner, having won the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month. While it’s possible she could go back-to-back, keep an eye out for Nelly Korda who has already won twice this year, including last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Korda is having a career year, leading the LPGA with a 69.03 scoring average, 31 rounds under par and 180 birdies, but she has yet to win a major. Korda’s best finish in a major was a tie for second at the 2020 ANA Inspiration.
It’s all about the long game
The Highlands Course, which has played host to three PGA Championships and a U.S. Open on the men’s side, will welcome its first women’s championship this week. Hosted by the Atlanta Athletic Club — who last held a women’s major in 1990 — the course is a mystery to most players in the field at this week’s championship. Add in the rain that hit the course earlier this week alongside the long fairways and the overall makeup of the course, and the long hitters in the field could have an advantage. Golfers will likely turn to their longer irons and hybrids to try to master the course that includes four par-3s.
“This course is really amazing,” defending champion Sei Young Kim told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Aronimink (last year’s site) is a little long overall, but this course has more bunkers I can see. The course got a lot of rain, so it feels like more length, a longer length than last year. … I look forward to this week.”
KPMG will offer performance statistics to golfers and fans in order to provide more insight into how the course is playing and how each player is performing. It’s similar to what the men are provided on the PGA Tour, bringing women’s golf more in line with what you would expect at the highest level.
You can watch the first and second rounds Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel at 11 a.m. Saturday’s round will air on NBC at 1 p.m., while the final round will start at 3 p.m. on NBC (all times ET).