Momentum Building for Life-Changing Weekend for Group at Four-Under
Congressional Country Club Remains In Gee Chun’s domain through the morning wave of the second round. But Jennifer Chang, Caroline Inglis, and 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Sei Young Kim all sit at four-under through 36 holes, looking to build their momentum for the 2022 season.
Chang’s pause before her approach on the 18th represents the moment's gravity for the players near the top of the $9,000,000 purse's leaderboard. Sitting on the left fairway's first cut, the 22-year-old took a deep breath before firing, ending up missing to the right in her first major start of 2022.
“I've struggled a bit over the season,” Chang said, “Didn't get off to a great start. I think I've only made three cuts so far, so just to be in the mix of it all, it's a huge confidence booster for me. Just going to try to do the same the next two days.”
She finished with a bogey to enter uncharted territory in her LPGA career. Chang’s best finish in her three years on tour is a T-8 at the 2021 LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala, her only top-10 in 42 career starts. Her previous best mark at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is a T44 in 2020. Chang’s focused on changing her mindset to ease her internal pressure.
“At the end of the day it is a game,” Chang said, “We're doing this for a living, but I think the more you can enjoy it and be comfortable, the better your outcome will be.”
Kim answered one of the most pressuring questions of her career at the 2020 KPMG Women's PGA Championship. At the time, Kim held the mantle of most wins on tour without a major title and broke through at Aronimink. She followed up by taking the Pelican Women’s Championship alongside her first major victory.
However, the 12-time LPGA winner hasn't won since, with her closest chance in a playoff at the 2021 Pelican Women's Championship, which Nelly Korda seized.
“It's already been years ago,” Kim said, “So, yeah, at the time I win the tournament, I feel really good. I played my strategy, so I hope this week is the same  when I won years ago.”
2022's been a slow start for the fourth-most-winningest South Korean in LPGA history. In eight starts, she's posted one top-10 at the DIO Implant Open back in April. A star such as Kim's talent can only be suppressed for so long, as she caught fire Friday like she did posting the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship final round scoring record of 63 in 2020.
She started the blaze with her first birdie of the day on the fourth. After that, Kim charged through Congressional Country Club with four birdies over her next seven holes. The only hiccups in the 29-year-old's round were on the par 5s: Kim carded two bogeys on the 9th and 16th.
“Sometimes you need a 3-wood from the tee shot. Why I have bogey from today because I hit the driver, and I tried more aggressive, but that makes a mistake, so, yeah, tomorrow maybe more stay focused on the fairway.”
Kim preached patience and sticking to her game plan going into the weekend. Caroline Inglis’s been patient for an opportunity like this weekend for a long time. In her fourth career KPMG Women's PGA Championship appearance, its her first made cut.
“I'm really proud,” Inglis said, “It's been a rough season so far. I feel like I've played good, but just haven't had any results. I was told also, just reminded that this was the first cut I've made at a KPMG Women's PGA, so that feels good.”
The American made two cuts in six starts this season, with her best result a T45 at the Cognizant Founder's Cup. The lone top-10 of the five-year veteran's career came back in 2018. Reminding Inglis to stay present and not lose sight of the moment, the 28-year-old's husband's been encouraging her not to look at her phone or the leaderboard. Instead, he wants her to relish in the success of the work that Inglis put in with her coaches at Congressional at the start of the week for a potentially life-changing championship.
“It is about competing and winning,” Inglis said, “but the way I'm approaching it, it's not going to change. It's still picking smart targets and hitting good golf shots.”