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 /
8 of 8

Embed from Getty Images

Five likely to disappoint at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

KOMG Women's PGA Championship
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Lydia Ko is not having a bad season. She’s still looking for that first 2017 victory, but so are the vast majority of players on the Tour.  With 11 starts, she’s played the weekend nine times and recorded seven top-10s. She’s playing good enough to be ranked second in the world and 19th in the CME Globe rankings.

Ko got achingly close to victory at the LOTTE. But there’s something about her game that isn’t sparking this year. She’s lacking the shot-making precision and laser-focused putting that catapulted her to the top of the world rankings and kept her there for 84 consecutive weeks.  This year Ko is missing putts she used to make and she is faltering on shots that last year and the year before were practically gimmies from 150 yards. Ko remains better than most. There’s no doubt about that. But her game isn’t trending toward victory as she takes the tee at Olympia Fields.

KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

With a victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions and three additional top-10 finishes this year, Inbee Park can hardly be said to be having a bad year. Yet Park’s most recent starts – those since her T3 finish at the ANA Inspiration – have been increasingly lackluster.

While Park’s technical game is intact – she ranks seventh on the Tour in driving accuracy and 11th in putting average – her killer instinct, that quality that led her peers to nickname her the Silent Assassin – is diminished.  Has the former world no. 1, an LPGA Hall of Famer who has won four of the Tour’s five major championships, some of them multiple times, simply exhausted her on-course goals?  I’m not suggesting that Inbee Park can’t or won’t win again – she will because she carries a superbly refined and polished golf game in her bag. But winning seems no longer to be her focus.

Sei Young Kim, the 2015 Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year, notched her sixth Tour victory last month at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play. and she followed that win with a top-5 finish at the Kingsmill. But since then she’s missed a cut and twice withdrawn from events. Kim seems to be dealing with injury and if that’s the case, she’s not going to be competitive at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /

With 15 career victories on a resume that includes the 2007 Women’s PGA Championship, Suzann Pettersen would logically be among the top contenders for the win at Olympia Fields. She’s a fierce if occasionally impulsive competitor and she’s recorded four top-10s this season.

Pettersen is a powerhouse off the tee but she can also get off some wild shots that take her wandering into challenging situations. The same could be said of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn. The difference is that Thompson and Jutanugarn get back into position quickly and Pettersen can’t always execute the saves. Perhaps even more important, her short game and putting both lack the crisp precision necessary to stay ahead of the field.

KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

Angela Stanford typically isn’t a player we look to be in contention week-in and week-out, but she is the kind of player we except to see consistently making cuts and finishing in the top-20. Stanford has six times represented the United States at the Solheim Cup but this year she’s struggling to get into the top eight in Solheim Cup points. (Michelle Wie has recently pushed her down to the ninth slot.) Similarly, while she’s started at 14 Tour events this year and missed only two cuts, she’s finished outside the top-20 at seven events, half of those she started. While her long game remains adequate, Stanford’s short game and performance on the putting surface are less competitive than they have been in previous years.

Next: LPGA rookie race update: Park v Yin v Korda

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship television coverage begins on Thursday, June 29 with Golf Channel coverage of the first round, starting at 12:30pm ET.