<
>

Five things to watch at the 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship

In the third major of the season, former World No.1 Nelly Korda will defend her title at the 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club. AP Photo/John Bazemore

This week, 156 women golfers will compete June 23-26 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club's newly restored Blue course in Bethesda, Maryland. The third major of the season will host 99 of the top-100 ranked women golfers in the world -- including defending champion Nelly Korda and World No. 1 Jin Young Ko -- as well as nine LPGA/PGA teaching professionals who gained entry into the field at Congressional after their finish at the PGA Women's Stroke Play Championship.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the prize fund for the 2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship doubles to $9 million. With increased purses and elevated venue sites, the Championship has become one of the most anticipated majors of the season. Here are five things to watch this week as the women make history just miles away from the U.S. Capitol:

Growing the game, doubling the purse

Two days before the top women golfers tee off at Congressional Country Club, the PGA of America, KPMG and the LPGA Tour announced that the purse for the third major of the year doubles from $4.5 million to $9m. The winner's share doubles from $675,000 to $1.35 million. The KPMG purse has increased 300 percent from $2.25 million in 2014.

A few weeks ago, the top women golfers competed for a record-breaking $10 million purse at the U.S. Women's Open. Over the next five years, the U.S. Women's Open purse will increase to $12 million. The 2021 AIG Women's British Open made history with a $5.8 million purse and raises to $6.8 million this year. And if this week's increased major purse is any indicator, times are changing for the women's game -- one increased purse at a time.

"This is a very big day for the LPGA, women's golf, and women's sports," LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said in a statement. "We look forward to working with KPMG and the PGA of America to continue using our platform to empower young women and inspire positive change in the world."

All-star groupings

Want to get the hype started early during a major week? Just pair up past champions and sit back and watch in amazement.

Starting at 7:33 a.m. EST on Thursday, 2016 winner Brooke Henderson, three-time KPMG Women's PGA champion Inbee Park and defending champion Nelly Korda will tee it up. "Amazing feeling," Korda says of being grouped with Henderson and Park. "I played with Brooke the first two days last week, so we'll have a lot to talk about again." The grouping will also tee it up again Friday at 12:50 p.m. -- because one time with this grouping is simply not enough.

In the afternoon wave on Thursday, teeing off at 12:50 p.m. EST, championship pairings continue with 2022 U.S. Women's Open winner Minjee Lee playing alongside past KPMG Women's PGA Championship winners and Anna Nordqvist. Shortly after, Lydia Ko, Korda and Ariya Jutanugarn will tee off. The women will stay in the same groupings for the first two rounds.

Returning champ Nelly Korda leans on good attitude

In March, former World No. 1 and Olympic gold medalist Korda discovered that she had a blood clot in her left arm. Shortly after, the 23-year-old announced she underwent surgery for the clot in her left arm's subclavian vein. The pressing question of when she would return to competitive golf and how she'd perform lingered.

Earlier this month, Korda put all those questions to rest with a return to golf at the U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles in Southern Pines, North Carolina. Though Korda finished tied for 8th, she looked better than ever. Then, at the Meijer LPGA Classic last weekend, she reminded golf fans that she was back with a second-place finish.

"I made sure I was 100 percent before coming back and even just hitting golf balls," Korda says. "Ever since I started hitting, it's just been kind of full throttle. ... If you told me that when I was laying in the ER, I would have definitely been very happy."

This week, Korda looks to repeat her first major success from last year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

"The more you enjoy it out there, the better you play, the less you get kind of ticked off, the less things go wrong," Korda says. "Since I've been back, I've made sure that I've had a good attitude and enjoyed every second of it, and I think that's contributed to my good play."

Newly renovated host site means new challenges

The best women golfers in the world will contest the first major championship at the Congressional Country Club -- a venue that hosted not only U.S. Opens and PGA Championships but also various PGA Tour events.

And it's the first time a championship is on the newly renovated Blue course at Congressional. The last major played at the course was the 2011 U.S. Open, when Rory McIlroy took home the trophy.

For 20 months, golf course architect Andrew Green transformed the historic Bethesda course by removing many trees, widening fairways, rebuilding greens and amplifying potential obstacles for players.

"It's just the slopes and the fairways," LPGA veteran Stacy Lewis says. "Keeping the ball on the greens, the slopes on the greens. There's a lot of different challenges. It's not just one thing."

No pressure in back-to-back major pursuit for Minjee Lee

When competing in majors, Minjee Lee doesn't let the pressure overcome her. Instead, she leans into it. She's been fostering her confidence in hyper-competitive play for years.

Building her confidence helped her win her first major at the 2021 Evian Championship and her second major at the U.S. Women's Open in early June. Her unwavering belief in her training and abilities allowed the Australian to win eight times on the LPGA tour, including her two majors.

"I like to embrace the challenge, and I think the harder the golf courses get, I think the better I play," Lee says. "When I play under pressure, that is where I excel as well. I think it just really sets up well."

Currently ranked No. 3 in the Rolex World Rankings, Lee comes into this week fresh off her historic run at Pine Needles, where she secured the all-time 72-hole scoring record of 271. And for Lee, the dream of hoisting up the KPMG Women's PGA Championship trophy has become a constant motivation.

"Two majors in one season, that's just overtaken my dreams," Lee says. "Good play is going to result in maybe a win or contending, so I think I'm just going to focus on that. It would be another dream come true if I did win."