KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Who’s hot and who’s not?

Brooke Henderson. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Brooke Henderson. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /
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KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Ariya Jutanugarn. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

Ariya Jutanugarn: Rolex Rank – 2, CME Globe Rank – 1

Ariya Jutanugarn is enjoying a fine season. She’s coming to Olympia Fields with 14 season starts and 14 cuts made.  Her worst finish, a T47, occurred at the Tour’s season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic. Since then Jutanugarn has been on cruise control, recording eight top-10s and a win at the Manulife LPGA Classic three weeks ago.

Jutanugarn’s 2016 Ricoh Women’s British Open victory catapulted her into the stratosphere of the women’s game. Given her 2017 momentum, I’m looking for her to capture at least one major championship this year as she continues her march to a career grand slam. It could be the Women’s PGA Championship, or it could come later in the season.

Ariya Jutanugarn rarely uses driver, preferring 3-wood off the tee. Even clubbed down, she remains among the most powerful long game players on the Tour and she’s increased her accuracy since she abandoned the big club. On the putting surface Jutanugarn is consistently at home and she remains at ease and unperturbed even when the little white ball doesn’t quite obey her flatstick. That zen-like ease keeps her in the game when others fume away their edge against Old Man Par.

Jutanugarn is as relaxed as Lexi Thompson is intense and focused, and watching them play their two very different games this week is going to be a real treat. In the end, I see them coming to Olympia Fields as evenly matched.