What makes it so difficult to win big championships is that they are both bigger and fewer. The attention is greater; the courses are harder and the money is richer. But there are only five majors annually on the LPGA Tour. So the options are extremely limited. This week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is one of those rare opportunities to earn a place in golf history.
For the sixth year in a row, the PGA of America is leading KPMG to a classic venue that previously hosted a men’s major. In addition to Aronimink GC, Hazeltine National GC, Kemper Lakes GC, Olympia Fields CC and Sahalee GC, the Atlanta Athletic Club is important venues that have hosted a Women’s PGA since the first KPMG in Westchester CC in 2015.
And as further evidence of the rise of women’s football over the past decade, all three of the LPGA 2021 Tour majors touring will take place in locations where men’s majors were held. Atlanta AC follows the US Women’s Open at the Olympic Club and precedes the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie GL. The ANA Inspiration takes place every year at Mission Hills CC, while the Amundi Evian Championship takes place annually at the Evian Resort GC in France.
The other added pressure from the majors is that they are in the shadow of the giants. Atlanta AC was the home of Bobby Jones and Atlanta was the birthplace of Louise Suggs, who was one of the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour in 1950. She is also one of the best of all time, winning 61 times in 11 majors including the 1957 Women’s PGA.
This KPMG Women’s PGA comes at a time of unprecedented talent on the LPGA Tour. With Yuka Saso winning the US Women’s Open and Patty Tavatanakit winning the ANA Inspiration, the last 10 majors have been won by 10 different players, tracing back to Jin Young Ko at ANA 2019, who followed her at Amundi Evian later that year.
Since KPMG and the PGA teamed up with the LPGA Tour to upgrade the LPGA Championship in 2015, 25 players have made the 31 majors with Jin Young Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Inbee Park won two-time winners during this stretch.
Until Nelly Korda won the Meijer Classic on Sunday, there were 13 different winners at the 13 events this year. In addition to Tavatanakit, Saso and Korda among the winners of 2021 are the former great champions Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, Hyo Joo Kim and Ariya Jutanugarn as well as the top players of the Rolex ranking Jessica Korda, Ally Ewing and Austin Ernst as well emerging stars Wei-Ling Hsu and Matilda Castren.
An integral part of the Women’s PGA – an innovation that has since been emulated by other sporting events – is the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit. This is the seventh year that business, political, sports and media executives come together to pave the way for women to move into the C-Suite. This year’s keynote speaker is Patty Jenkins, the award-winning writer / director of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984.
She will be joined by Angela Hwang, Group President, Pfizer Biopharmaceutical Group; Paul Knoop, KPMG US Chairman and CEO; two-time LPGA major champion Stacy Lewis; Laura Newinski, KPMG US Vice Chair and COO; Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State, and Chuck Robbins, Chairman & CEO, Cisco, with NBC Sunday Night Football side reporter Michele Tafoya hosting.
“We have high expectations that the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit will inspire and challenge young professionals to reach amazing heights and know that they can do more,” said Laura Newinski of KPMG. “More importantly, Championship Week, as well as the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, will inspire leaders to make other decisions to open those doors and break down those barriers and give talented women a path to success they haven’t seen before. “
The 156-player field includes eight PGA / LPGA Club Professionals who qualified during the 2020 PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship, won by Sandra Changkija. She is accompanied by Joanna Coe, Stephanie Connelly-Eiswerth, Moira Dunn-Bohls, Ashley Grier, Allie Knight, Samantha Morrell and Alisa Rodriguez.
The 2020 Women’s PGA, postponed to October by the pandemic, was won by Sei Young Kim, who at the time was shortlisted for the best female golf player who had not yet won a major. That’s a list that Nelly Korda likely tops with five wins on the LPGA Tour at the age of 22.
“I’m so excited,” said Kim after winning at Aronimink. “Right now I’m hiding my tears. It was a major I really wanted. It’s a dream come true. I’ll wait a while longer to reach my biggest goal of winning a major tournament, so I’m very happy to win the first major tournament at KPMG. “
Kim, who has already had 10 wins on the LPGA Tour, knew that a major championship would take her to a higher level in golf trophy history.
“I’m not going to lie, I felt the pressure from last night,” she said after lifting the trophy. “I feel the pressure every week, but especially in a big championship. I’ve felt pressure every time I’ve played in one, and I can feel it in the eyes of the players when I get to a big championship that everyone is really out to win it. “
A month later, Kim added her 12th win at the Pelican Women’s Championship. This week she will try to become the first consecutive Women’s PGA winner in the KPMG era and the first since Inbee Park won three straight wins in 2013-15. After all, history is made in the majors.