5 Takeaways from the Final Round of the KPMG Women's PGA
Ruoning Yin captured her second LPGA title and first major championship Sunday at Baltusrol when she birdied three of the last six holes to shoot 67 and win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The 20-year-old only made six bogeys all week on a demanding course and during the final round, when the pressure was at its most intense, she hit 12 of 14 fairways and did not miss one green all day, going a perfect 18-for-18.
“For the last couple days, my ball-striking was perfect,” the new champion said while standing next to her trophy. “I only missed, I think, six greens in four days. I think my ball-striking was pretty good.”
Here are five other takeaways from a wonderful week in New Jersey:
It’s Difficult to Win a Major
So many players had a chance to win late on Sunday and there was a big probability that the Championship would be decided in a playoff. However, there were several hiccups among the top contenders down the stretch.
For starters, the final grouping of Leona Maguire (74), Jenny Shin (72) and Stephanie Meadow (70) combined to shoot 3 over par.
Maguire, the winner last week on the LPGA and in control of her game for three days at Baltusrol, made three bogeys in her first 11 holes to drop too off the pace while others were making birdies to move up the leaderboard.
Shin, looking for her second LPGA victory and first since 2016, birdied the first hole, then did not make another one the rest of the round. Meadow, looking for her first victory in her 140th LPGA start, played the best of the three some and made two birdies and a lone bogey to tie for third place, two shots behind Yin.
“Everything about this tournament is always top-notch, and this year was no exception,” Meadow said. “Obviously not the outcome that either Leona or I wanted today, but we fought hard, and we did our best.”
Elsewhere, Xiyu Lin was a 7 under par after 16 holes and needed one birdie at either of the last two holes, both par-5s, and parred the 17th and made bogey on the 18th after hitting it in the water off the tee. New pro Rose Zhang was 6 under on the day after 15 holes and played the last three in 1 over par, making bogey on the 16th hole and pars on the last two. She drove it into the water on the 18th hole, which dashed any chances of making a closing eagle like she did on Saturday.
Ciganda Makes Major Move
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda made the cut by two shots on Friday and shot 69-64 over the weekend, the last round coming via five birdies and an eagle.
Think about it this way – Ciganda started the final round 1-over total and ended it 6-under and tied for third place to earn $423,070.
Her wild stretch all happened between Nos. 4 and 13. She shot 7 under and was 7 under par on those 10 holes alone. She parred that last five holes and was a touch disappointed that she wasn’t able to make another one on the two closing par 5s.
“I wanted to be aggressive today,” Ciganda, 33, said. “I thought I could have a low round on this golf course. I've loved it since the first time that I came here. It's tricky, but I think after the rain we had, I thought it was gettable, and I was trying to hit as many greens as possible.”
France’s Perrine Delacour also shot 64, matching Ciganda for the lowest tournament of the Championship. The 29-year-old opened with five birdies on the first six holes and then made three birdies on the last four.
Youth Served on Final Leaderboard
The women’s game is in great hands with so much youth in contention on a regular basis. This week was no different.
What do Ruoning Yin, Yuka Saso and Rose Zhang have in common? All three women are 22 or younger and all three finished inside the top eight at the KPMG Women’s PGA.
Yin, of course, won the Championship with a late surge and a birdie on the last. It’s the second LPGA victory for the 20-year-old, who won in Los Angeles in April.
Saso turned 22 on June 20 and won the U.S. Women’s Open two years ago in a playoff. She shot a final-round 66 that included an untimely bogey on the 16th hole and a birdie on the 18th hole that, for a brief moment, looked like it would be good enough to get into a playoff.
Then there’s Zhang, the 20-year-old who won her first LPGA start as a professional at nearby Liberty National and shot a final-round 67 that included bogeys on Nos. 13 and 16. She tied for eighth place in her first major as professional and earned valuable Solheim Cup points for the American squad.
“I didn't have any sort of expectations on myself, but at the same time, I wanted to see where my game ended up with the professionals and to really see if I can able to be in contention on a good day, on a bad day, etc.,” Zhang said. “It's really cool to see that my game is there, and I just have to work a little extra harder to play better.”
Khang’s So Close
Megan Khang continues to contend on a regular basis. She just hasn’t been able to win since joining the LPGA in 2016.
The 25-year-old has accomplished so much. She’s qualified for two U.S. Solheim Cup teams and, with her third-place tie Sunday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she collected her ninth top-10 finish in a major championship since 2018, which is only topped by Inbee Park’s 10 during that same span. World No. 1 Jin Young Ko and World No. 2 Nelly Korda both have nine top-10 finishes too.
Khang shot matching 67s on the weekend at Baltusrol and birdied four of the last six holes Sunday to have a chance to win late. Her closest call to date is an agonizing second-place finish last year at the Dana Open where she birdied the last hole to shoot 64 but lost to Gaby Lopez by a shot when she birdied each of the last three holes to win by one.
Sahalee Up Next
The Championship continues its run of world-class venues next year when it heads west to Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., host of the 2016 KPMG Womens’ PGA Championship. It was there where an 18-year-old Brooke Henderson captured her first of two major championships.
Henderson opened with a 67, then stalled some with consecutive rounds of 75. She stormed back with a final-round 65 in better scoring conditions to get into a playoff with Lydia Ko. The playoff lasted only one hole as Henderson hit her approach to 3 feet for an easy birdie.
The last four years this championship has been at Hazeltine (2019), Aronimink (’20), Atlanta Athletic Club (’21) and Congressional last year, where In Gee Chun took home to trophy.