Past champions in good form ahead of season's third major
Perhaps in the third round of the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by Acer Nelly Korda can take a little advice from both Brooke Henderson and Sung Hyun Park on how to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
On Saturday in New Jersey the two past winners (Henderson: 2016, Park: 2018) are paired with Korda, an LPGA Tour star looking for her major championship breakthrough. Korda would be wise to have an open ear – all the recent past winners at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship are all in solid form heading to Aronimink Golf Club.
Henderson, no matter the venue, always seems to play well at the KPMG Women’s PGA – having notched top-10 finishes in four out of the five she’s played in her young career. It started with a T5 in 2015 with a Sponsor Invite, and followed that up with a victory the next year and a playoff loss in 2017.
While Henderson had an extended break after the LPGA Tour returned due to COVID-19, the Canadian has rounded into form lately, having made it into a playoff at the ANA Inspiration just a few weeks ago – alongside Korda, and eventual champion Mirim Lee – and found the weekend at the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
Park, meanwhile, is just starting to ramp up her play on the LPGA Tour once again after spending a good chunk of 2020 in her native South Korea.
The former No. 1 golfer in the world finished T40 at the ANA Inspiration as her best result of the season so far on the LPGA Tour. But the seven-time LPGA Tour winner shouldn’t be counted out as someone worth watching at this year’s KPMG Women’s PGA.
The golfer who is, perhaps, the most worth watching at Aronimink is No.3 in the Rolex Rankings: Danielle Kang.
Kang, who won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2017 in a playoff over Henderson, stormed out of the gates after the COVID-19 break to win both events in Ohio – the LPGA Drive On Championship and the Marathon LPGA Classic presented by Dana the very next week. She backed that up with a T5 at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open and has back-to-back top-15 finishes in her last two events before the week at Aronimink.
In fact, Kang has finished outside the top-15 only twice on the LPGA Tour all season long.
While Kang is to keep her solid momentum going, someone who is looking to spark some magic again at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is defending champion Hannah Green.
Green, who, like Kang and Henderson made her first major championship victory the KPMG Women’s PGA, has four top-20 results in just seven events this season on the LPGA Tour. Her victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA in 2019 spurred her on to find the winner’s circle just two months later – winning the Cambia Portland Classic.
Green’s breakthrough major victory was the first wire-to-wire win at the KPMG Women’s PGA since Yani Tseng in 2011, and the first win by an Australian since Karrie Webb in 2006.
But while most of the conversation leading into the 2020 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be wrapped in the 20-somethings looking to either add a major championship trophy to their collection – or bust out for major No. 2, in the case of Henderson, Kang, and Green – one name that might sneak in and top them all is 32-year-old Inbee Park.
‘Queen Bee’ won the KPMG Women’s PGA three years in a row, from 2013-2015, as part of her magical career on the LPGA Tour. Park finished T7 last season and looks to match the legendary Mickey Wright for the most KPMG Women’s PGA titles with four (Park is currently tied with Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Patty Sheehan, and Annika Sorenstam with three career wins at the event – how about that for elite company?)
Park is ranked ninth in the world and already has a victory this season at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She has finished outside the top-10 just once this year when she has found the weekend.
Other recent past champions in the field include Cristie Kerr (2010) and Anna Nordqvist (2009).
While there are plenty of golfers on the LPGA Tour with solid resumes and tons of momentum heading into Aronimink, it’s the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship past winners who are worth watching the most.