Annika Sorenstam makes it three in a row
Annika Sorenstam made history in 2003, capturing the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open to become just the sixth player in LPGA history to complete the Career Grand Slam. Sorenstam went on to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship again in 2004 and 2005 to become the first player on the LPGA to win a major championship three years in a row.
“I have to be honest I do have to pinch myself sometimes when I look at my results. I feel like I'm just a little girl from Sweden that came over here to follow my dreams and hope to win a few golf tournaments,” Sorenstam said after her third consecutive victory in 2005. “When I look at my bio in the LPGA book, I get overwhelmed, definitely. I just feel like sometimes, have I really done this? Is it really true? There's a lot of times where I want to be able to absorb everything and just cherish every moment.”
Inbee Park matches Sorenstam
In 2013, Inbee Park played some of the best golf of her career. That season, Park won the first three majors of the year, including the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Sunday at Locust Hill Country Club was a marathon. On the final day, the field played 36-holes after extensive weather delays plagued the championship and Park finished tied after 72 holes with Catriona Matthew. Park defeated Matthew on the third hole of the sudden death playoff for her third major title.
In 2014, the Championship again went to extra holes and Park defeated Brittany Lincicome on the first playoff hole at Monroe Golf Club to successfully defend her title.
In 2015, Park avoided a playoff and won by an impressive five-strokes at Westchester Country Club for her third consecutive title, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Sorenstam in 2005. What made Park’s accomplishment that much more impressive was that she won on three different venues.
“It feels amazing to win three times in a row,” Park said after her victory in 2015. “Obviously putting my name alongside like Annika Sorenstam or Patty Berg, legends of golf, just being a part of history of this golf tournament, I feel extremely honored, and I can't believe that I just did it.”
Brooke Henderson becomes youngest champion
Brooke Henderson had good feelings from the moment she arrived at Sahalee Country Club, host of the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. For Henderson, the layout was similar to that of Edgewater Country Club, where less than a year before she had won her first event on the LPGA Tour. Both courses featuring towering pines that lined the fairways and provided a comfort to the Canadian who felt right at home.
The good vibes continued into the Championship. During the first round, Henderson made a hole-in-one and won a car, which she generously gave to her caddie and sister, Brittany. Henderson held the 18 and 36-hole leads at Sahalee but fell two-down of Lydia Ko heading into the final round.
Sunday, the Canadian was buoyed by the support of a young fan who followed her over the final stretch, giving her a high-five between each hole. Henderson rolled in a putt from off the green for eagle at the 11th hole to keep her Championship hopes within grasp and finished tied after 72-holes with Ko, who was then the No. 1 ranked player in the world. The pair returned to the 18th hole, where Henderson stuck her approach to within three feet, which she made for birdie to capture her first major title. With her win, Henderson became the youngest winner in the history of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at 18-years of age.
“I was reading some of the names on this trophy and it's very, very cool,” Henderson said. “But I would have liked to be the youngest ever to win a major championship, but to be able to win this one is a good second best.”
Sung Hyun Park joins legendary winners from Korea
From the minute Sung Hyun Park stepped into the water’s edge at the par 4, 16th hole at Kemper Lakes Golf Club, images of Se Ri Pak immediately came to mind.
Park is part of a generation in the Republic of Korea who was been inspired to take up the game of golf by Pak, who boldly took off her socks and shoes to wade into a water hazard en route to victory at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open. History repeated itself at the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship during a playoff between Park, So Yeon Ryu and Nasa Hataoka, who was eliminated on the first extra hole. On the second playoff hole, Park stepped into the hazard where her ball was sitting on the edge. She pulled off an incredible up and down for birdie to win her second major title.
“Since there was no water below the ball, I did like what I do with a bunker shot. I felt like, "I got this," when I did the shot,” Park said through a translator about her shot on 16. “It was my first time doing that kind of shot.”
Park became just the third Korean to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, joining Pak and Inbee Park.