Six Australians will tee it up at this week’s KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club, just south of Chicago for the second LPGA Major Championship of 2017.
Minjee Lee looks without doubt to be the best of our chances and comes into this weeks’ event brimming with confidence after an impressive run of four consecutive top 10 finishes in recent weeks.
The 21-year-old has 6 top 10 finishes from her 12 LPGA starts so far in 2017, and should benefit from the experience of being in the hunt on Sunday at a major after contending at the ANA Inspiration earlier this year before eventually finishing in a tie for 3rd place.
The young Western Australian looks to have a legitimate chance of claiming her first major championship this week, but will need to be at her best as many of the world’s leading players are coming into the tournament in great form.
Minjee will tee off on Thursday at 8:40 am alongside German star Caroline Masson and former US Women’s Open Champion and world number 5 In Gee Chun, in what could be a long week with thunderstorms forecast for the first two days of the championship.
Of the other Australians in the field Lee’s former Australian teammate Su Oh had her best finish since early 2016 when she finished 4th at the Meijer Classic two weeks ago, and seems to be growing in confidence after making some swing changes earlier in the year under the watchful eye of coach Cameron McCormick in Dallas.
There is no doubt the talented youngster has the ability to contend against the best and it would be no shock to see her name appear on the leaderboard at some point during the week.
Oh also gets the benefit of an early tee time in round 1, she will play at 7:40 am alongside Americans Nelly Korda and Karen Paolozzi.
Queenslander Sarah Jane Smith has also made a solid start to her 2017 LPGA season.
The 32-year-old, who currently sits 39th on the LPGA race to the CME Championship, unfortunately broke an astonishing run of 35 straight cuts made over a period of 14 months by missing the cut at the NW Arkansas Championship last week.
While her record in major championships does not enthuse a huge amount of confidence, Smith’s Achilles heel at times has been putting 4 solid rounds together and if she can do that this week she has the class to contend.
Smith will tee off at 2:20 pm alongside Thai star Pornanong Phatlum and American Jacqui Concolino.
Fellow Queenslander Katherine Kirk has had somewhat of a resurgence in 2017, the 35-year-old started the LPGA season without full playing status, but her 11th place finish at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii earlier this year saw her re-ranked and she will now get into almost every LPGA event she chooses to play in 2017.
Kirk is coming off a season-best finish of 10th place at last week’s NW Arkansaw Championship and has shown in the past that she has the game and particularly the short game to contend on tough courses in major championships.
Kirk will tee off at 8:10 am alongside Thai Thirada Suwannapura and American Megan Khang.
Karrie Webb has had by her standards a dismal start to 2017, and currently sits at 118 on the LPGA’s Race to the CME Championships.
The 42-year-old has seen her world ranking drop down to 90, and having been the highest ranked Australian since the Rolex Rankings began in 2006 has now seen Lee, Oh and Smith pass her and is now our 4th highest ranked player.
Webb did show glimpses of form at the Shoprite Classic earlier this month where she finished tied for 17th, but has also missed 6 cuts from 11 starts so far in 2017.
Perhaps returning to Chicago may be the spark Webb needs to find her best form, she has great memories of the "windy city" which was the scene of her 2001 US Women’s Open triumph at the Merit Club.
Webb will tee off at 1:10 pm in a marquee pairing alongside Chinese star Shanshan Feng, who in 2012 became the first Chinese woman to win a major championship by winning this event, and Swede Anna Nordqvist who also won this event back in 2009.
Wendy Doolan also finds herself back on the major championship stage this week. The 48-year-old from Sydney now has her own teaching academy in Florida, and received a spot in the field by virtue of her performances in the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional division events she has competed in. Doolan will tee off at 9:30 am alongside Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir and American Annie Park.
Live scoring can be found at lpgascoring.com
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