For the second time in less than a month, the LPGA is preparing for a major championship. The occasion is the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which gets underway Thursday at Kemper Lakes Golf Club outside Chicago.
The tournament dates back to 1955 when it debuted as the LPGA Championship. In 2015 the PGA of America took over operation of the championship in partnership with the LPGA.
The purse increased substantially as a result; this year’s field will play for $3.65 million.
A strong case could be made the field in this championship is the strongest of any on the LPGA schedule.
World number-one Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn and defending champion Danielle Kang head a lineup that includes every one of the top 100 players on the LPGA Official Money List. The field of 156 includes 29 players who have combined for 62 major-championship wins among them.
Jutanugarn is the likely pre-tournament favorite. The 22-year old claimed the U.S. Women’s Open title earlier this month, her ninth LPGA win and the second of this year.
Kang prevailed last year at Olympia Fields Country Club, also in suburban Chicago, when she birdied the 72nd hole to edge Brooke Henderson by one shot. It was Kang’s first LPGA win, making her the first American competitor to win this championship since Cristie Kerr in 2010.
Inbee Park, who win this championship three times in succession from 2013-15, figures to be a threat. Park, who turns 30 on July 12, will be seeking her eighth major championship. She’s won 19 times on the LPGFA Tour, including the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix earlier this year.
Park is one of 10 past champions in this event, a list that includes Laura Davies (1994, 1996); Shanshan Feng (2012); Henderson (2016); Juli Inkster (1999, 2000); Kang (2017); Kerr (2010); Anna Nordqvist (2009); Yani Tseng (2008, 2011); and Karrie Webb (2001).
This championship is also the last opportunity for players to qualify for the International Crown, which will be played in the Republic of Korea in October. The eight competing nations have already been determined. The hosts will be joined by the United States, Japan, England, Australia, Thailand, Sweden, and Chinese Taipei. The four players on each team will be determined by the world rankings following the conclusion of the championship.