Key storylines, top players to watch at the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

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The 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship kicks off Thursday (broadcast schedule, course details, event history here) at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., ahead of the LPGA’s third major tournament of the season, which will feature 18 of the top 20 female players in the Rolex Rankings, here are some of the players and biggest stories to follow.

2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Key players to know in Congress

Nelly Korda

  • As defending champion, 23-year-old Korda will look to join mickey wright (1960-61), Patty Sheehan (1983-84) and Juli Inkster (1999-2000) – and three rounds Annika Sorenstam (2003-04-05) and Inbee Park (15/14/2013) – as the only players to successfully defend their PGA Women’s Championship titles. Korda, 23, ranked No. 2 in the Rolex rankings, was diagnosed with a blood clot in her left arm in March, forcing her to sit out competition for two months. She returned to action in June at the US Women’s Open and finished T-8, and she held the 54-hole lead last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic before dropping out in the playoffs.

Jin Young Ko

  • The fifth-year LPGA veteran is a 13-time LPGA winner with two major titles on her resume, the 2019 Chevron Championship and the 2019 Amundi Evian Championship. Ko, 26, who ranks No. 1 in the Rolex rankings and is a native of South Korea, ranks third in the LPGA in points average in major championships since 2017, at 70.85. Only world number 12 and winner KPMG 2020 Sei Young Kim (70.63) and Inbee Park (70.82) have a better average score in this period. She has five top-five finishes in majors since 2019, tied for most of all in that span.

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Lexi Thompson

  • It’s only a matter of time before the No. 6-ranked Thompson wins a tournament given her recent form: She has five top 10 finishes in eight starts this season along with two solo second-place finishes. No player has hit more greens in regulation this season than Thompson (76.5%) and she has 12 top-five finishes at the majors since 2013, tied for second most in that span.

Minjee Lee

  • The 26-year-old Australian, No. 3 in the Rolex rankings, won her second career major title this year at the US Open, and her second title of the season after also winning the Cognizant Founders Cup in May. She also has two podium finishes this season, finishing T-2 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and T-3 at the Los Angeles Open. It should be noted that since the start of 2021, no player has tied for a better aggregate score in the majors than Lee has at 38 under par (Nelly Korda ranks second at 34 under).

Lydia Ko

  • The 25-year-old New Zealander, ranked No. 4 in the world, earned her 17th career LPGA victory in January at the Gainbridge LGPA in Boca Rio, where she beat Danielle Kang by a blow. During the season, she has six top 10 finishes in 11 starts, with her worst finish being a T-25 in the Chevron Championship.

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Jessica Korda

  • The 29-year-old sister of last year’s champion, Nelly Korda, has finished in the top 10 in three of six events in 2022 and comes to Congress with a T-5 at the Meijer LPGA Classic in his last start. Jessica, a six-time LPGA winner who sits No. 14 in the world rankings, ranks ninth for runs in the 60s and 14th for average driving distance.

Jennifer Kupcho

  • The 25-year-old, No. 9-ranked Wake Forest product won her first major in March at the Chevron Championship, and she won last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic against a similar field, including a playoff against Nelly Korda and Ireland Leona Maguire. Kupcho is ninth on tour in total birdies and fifth for the Eagles.

Brooke Henderson

  • The 11-time LPGA winner recently added to her resume at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, shooting 64 in the final round and beating Lindsey Weaver-Wright in a playoff. She won the KPMG title in 2016 and finished second in 2017. It’s worth noting that the 24-year-old world No. 8 has gone eight bogey-free runs this season, tied for the most on tour.

Former winners of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Year

Winner

Venue

Score

Margin

Finalist(s)

2021

Nelly Korda (UNITED STATES)

Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Ga.

19 and under 269

three shots

Lizette Salas (UNITED STATES)

2020

Sei Young Kim (South Korea)

Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

14 and under 266

five shots

Inbee Park (South Korea)

2019

Hannah Green (Australia)

Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.

9-under 279

A blow

Sung Hyun Park (South Korea)

2018

Sung Hyun Park (South Korea)

Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Kildeer, Illinois.

10-less than 278

Won in playoffs

NASA Hataoka (Japan)So Yeon Ryu (South Korea)

2017

Danielle Kang (UNITED STATES)

Olympia Fields Golf Club (North Course), Olympia Fields, Illinois.

13 and under 271

A blow

Brooke Henderson (Canada)

2016

Brooke Henderson (Canada)

Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash.

6-under 278

Won in playoffs

Lydia Ko (New Zealand)

2015

Inbee Park (South Korea)

Westchester Country Club (West Course), Harrison, NY

19 and under 273

five shots

Sei Young Kim (South Korea)

2014

Inbee Park (South Korea)

Monroe Golf Club, Pittsford, NY

11-under 277

Won in playoffs

Brittany Lincicome (UNITED STATES)

2013

Inbee Park (South Korea)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, NY

5-less than 283

Won in playoffs

Catherine Matthew (Scotland)

2012

Shan Shan Feng (China)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, NY

6-under 282

two shots

Mika Miyazato (Japan), Stacy Lewis (UNITED STATES), Suzann Pettersen (Sweden), Eun Hee Ji (South Korea)

2011

Yani Tseng (Taiwan)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, NY

19 and under 269

10 strokes

Morgan Pressel (UNITED STATES)

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The NBC Golf Research Team contributed to this report.

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Key Stories, Top Players to Watch at the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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