An American scored a rare victory in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday – but Danielle Kang wasn’t the one you would have expected.
Only four Americans have won the title in the last 20 years, and Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and even Michelle Wie would have seemed the most likely to do the honors.
Lewis had the best final round among the Americans, a 67 that elevated her into a tie for ninth place. Thompson made an early charge with three birdies in her first seven holes to get within three shots of the lead but then backed off. She settled for her third straight 69 and wound up in a tie for seventh.
“On the back nine I honestly got tired. I don’t know what hit me,’’ said Thompson, who is skipping this week’s LPGA tournament in Wisconsin to rest up for the following week’s U.S. Women’s Open.
Wie needed a birdie on the last hole to shoot 73.
“It was one of those days where I mis-read every single putt,’’ she said. “I hit every dang one of them perfect, and just mis-read the speed. I had a lot of lipouts. If those would have fallen it would have been a completely different story.’’
The game’s newly-designated No. 1 player, Korean So Yeon Ryu, wasn’t dazzling either. She shot 71-72 on the weekend to finish in a tie for 14th.
WHAT’S NEXT? The LPGA players don’t have much of a wait before their next major championship. The U.S. Women’s Open, at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., tees off on July 13, and the fourth of the circuit’s five majors I also barely a month away – the Ricoh Women’s British Open Aug. 3-6 in Scotland.
Before those biggies, however, the circuit has a regular tour event starting on Thursday – the inaugural Thornberry Creek Classic in Oneida, Wis., near Green Bay. Ariya Jutanugarn, the No. 2 player in the Rolex Rankings, heads the field. She endured a tough time at Olympia Fields, shooting 77 in the first round immediately after losing her No. 1 ranking to Ryu. Jutanugarn improved to a 68 in the second round but still missed the 36-hole cut by one stroke.
Also in the Thornberry field are Brooke Henderson, Cristie Kerr and Suzanne Pettersen.
TWO IN ONE: The LPGA’s two other circuits will combine for an even more special new event starting next week in French Lick, Ind.
The developmental Symetra Tour will compete in the Donald Ross Centennial Championship from Thursday through Sunday on the 100-year-old Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort, then the first LPGA Senior Championship will take over the nearby Pete Dye Course for a three-day run from July 10-12.
Players in the new Senior event, all in the 45 and over age group, have been to French Lick the last four years for The Legends Championship. As was the case during Legends week, there will be an induction ceremony for the Legends Hall of Fame as part of the LPGA Senior Championship festivities. The new inductees to the Hall, located in the West Baden Springs Hotel, will be Nancy Scranton and Sandra Palmer.
KEMPER’S ON THE CLOCK: In a unusual bit of scheduling the PGA of America and LPGA decided to hold the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in the same area two years in a row but on different courses. It was played in the south suburbs at Olympia. Next year it’s in the north suburbs, at Kemper Lakes in Kildeer. That course hosted one men’s major – the 1989 PGA Championship won by Payne Stewart.