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Roe v. Wade decision hangs over PGA Championship: 5 takeaways

In Gee Chun celebrates her third major title at the KPMG PGA Championship on Sunday after an eventful week. (Elsa/Getty Images)

In Gee Chun won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on Sunday, coming from behind after surrendering a large lead early in the final round to win her third career major title. Here are five takeaways from Chun’s fourth career victory on tour.

1. In Gee Chun’s historic first round delivers title

Chun won the PGA Championship at five-under par, making her opening-round 64 — an eight-under strike at the recently renovated Congressional Blue Course — all the more impressive. No one else in the field even touched eight-under par over the weekend. Chun’s second-round 69 Friday gave her breathing room, and she used all of it from there, posting back-to-back rounds of 75 for a one-shot wire-to-wire victory.

“When I got a slump, I really wanted to quit the golf, but not because of them. I keep trying to play golf. That’s how I made win this week,” Chun said.

After a T-15 finish at the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month, Chun called her sister and told her she missed home. Winless since 2018, Chun didn’t feel like she had any goals. Her sister kept it blunt and suggested she quit golf.

“When I heard what she said,” Chun said, “I don’t want to — I didn’t want to quit the golf. Then I believe I still have a spirit, and I [said], In Gee, you still want to play golf.”

Chun’s perseverance was rewarded with her third major title. The 27-year-old felt the support of her fans — particularly her dedicated fan club, nicknamed “The Flying Dumbos” — and her sponsors, all of whom stuck with her during her four years away from the winner’s circle.

“I want to keep saying thanks to everyone who believed in me and never gave up on me,” she said.

2. Lexi Thompson’s heartbreaking runner-up finish — again

Lexi Thompson’s final round at Congressional Country Club on Sunday felt all too familiar. Trailing by three strokes at the start of the round, the 27-year-old posted two birdies took the lead on the fourth hole as Chun scuffled early on. Thompson then recorded her first bogey in 20 holes on the seventh and entered the final nine holes with a two-shot lead.

The back nine became her undoing as her short game faltered. She hit a two-foot putt that spun out of the cup. She took four shots to get down from the greenside for a bogey on the par-5 16th. She had a 3-footer that never touched the hole on the 17th, keeping her square with Chun.

All would have been forgiven if Thompson had raised her second major championship trophy. After a towering approach shot on the 18th, she had to make a 12-foot, left-to-right breaking putt to force a playoff with Chun.

The putt fell short and to the right of the cup.

“Because I’m a player too, when I saw someone miss the short putt, my heart is hurt too because I understand everything,” Chun said of Thompson’s miss.

Thompson signed autographs for kids, and then left the course without speaking to the media after the round.

The major championship wounds continue to deepen for the 27-year-old. The runner-up finish Sunday was her fourth since she won her first and only major at the 2014 ANA Inspiration. The others came at the 2015 Evian Championship, the 2017 ANA Inspiration and the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. The result also was just one year removed from her collapse at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, when she lost a five-shot lead with 10 holes to go.

Thompson last won on tour at the 2019 Shoprite LPGA Classic.

3. The backdrop of Supreme Court controversy

When the Supreme Court’s watershed decision overturning Roe v. Wade was handed down on Friday, the LPGA was playing its major championship just 12 miles from Washington, D.C. As leagues and athletes across women’s sports spoke out over the decision, the tour’s response came a day after the court’s ruling.

On Friday, the LPGA confirmed with that it would not make a statement. On Saturday, it provided the following statement:

The tour’s statement did not mention reproductive rights or abortion, central tenets of the decision. Players and caddies shared their frustrations over the LPGA’s response privately to Just Women’s Sports.

One player texted, “Well this is something, but really, it’s nothing. Just dancing around it.”

Marcoux Samaan appeared on NBC for an interview Saturday to discuss the state of the championship. The ruling was never brought up.

Charlotte Thomas and Su Oh shared on their Instagram stories that they participated in the protests at the Supreme Court.

LPGA layer-board member Amy Olson tweeted a Golfweek article in which she shared her perspective on the situation as a pro-life advocate.

“Now states have the opportunity to protect every life, they haven’t had the option to do that in almost 50 years,” Olson told Golfweek.

“For those who say this hurts women, my question to them is — when does a woman’s life begin? If we can’t answer that question, how can we even have a conversation about women’s rights?”

4. Why was the Congressional course so long?

Congressional Country Club played to a total of 6,894 yards this week, 200 yards longer than Pine Needles for the U.S. Women’s Open (6,638) and 53 yards longer than the PGA Tour’s TPC River Highlands this week.

Rain drenched the course on Wednesday, slowing down the roll of the balls on the fairways and greens. Course officials did not move the tees from their original positions as a result.

Golfer Mariah Stackhouse compared the length to around 7,100 on Thursday due to the conditions, highlighting the extra challenge Chun faced when she shot an eight-under 64 in the first round.

Travis Kreiter, the caddie and fiancé of U.S. Women’s Open runner-up Mina Harigae, expressed his concerns with the setup. He noticed that both Harigae and Jeongeun Lee6, who played in their group, could not reach a number of greens in regulation. With the new $9 million purse raising the stakes of the tournament, the importance placed on distance relative to other facets of the game came under question.

“There is no formula that says that the LPGA Tour should have been playing 6,900 yards,” Kreiter said, “There’s no formula. That or I would like to know what the formula was to get to that number, because it doesn’t make sense other than the fact that they just wanted to have the longest golf course in major championship history.”

Eight players finished the PGA Championship under par 72.

5. Life-changing money for the field

LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan joked that once the news of the tournament’s purse increase hit players’ inboxes on Tuesday, they would trickle out of the dining area to work on their games.

The pressure was already high for Jennifer Chang, who was making her LPGA major debut in 2022 at the PGA Championship. With a strong performance, she could earn a spot in the next major of the season, the Amundi Evian Championship. If she faltered and missed that, she would move closer to another trip to Q-Series, the LPGA’s qualifying school.

The 22-year-old found something in her game Thursday that allowed her to pull the trigger more quickly over the ball. The adjustment resulted in a T-10 finish, Chang’s career-best finish at a major and a guaranteed spot in the field of the major in France. Perhaps most impactfully, she earned $156,315, the largest paycheck of her career by over $100,000.

“I mean, it’s a huge check,” Chang said. “Usually, in a regular event, third place might get that. It’s a big deal. I can’t even process what’s just happened yet.”

Twenty players earned more than $100,000 on Sunday. Lauren Coughlin and Stephanie Kyriacou also made the first six-figure checks of their careers.

“It really takes one week, right?” Chang said. “Kind of a huge eye-opening experience. And that was the case for me.”

Kent Paisley is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering golf and the LPGA. He also contributes to Golf Digest. Follow him on Twitter @KentPaisley.