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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My "5 to Watch" at the KPMG

There are two majors to pick this week, so let's get started with the ladies and the KPMG Women's PGA.

Defending champ Danielle Kang

Tony Jesselli has posted his usual must-read preview over at his blog, so make sure you pop over and check it out. Danielle Kang is the defending champion -- although, as we know, the KPMG winner never gets to defend on the course where she won. This year's event will be played at the venerable Kemper Lakes Golf Club, which has hosted a large number of major events over the years.

The big news at this point is how much rain has fallen at the course. The LPGA plans to play the course at roughly 6700+ yards, which means it will play extremely long -- at least for the first couple of rounds, as it will take some time for the course to firm up, even if the rains stop before the event starts. I, however, am going against the prevailing sentiment and am NOT picking any of the long hitters to win.

A slow course helps long hitters by minimizing run into the rough, but it can also allow the shorter players to hit their long clubs and still get controllable shots... and I believe the shorter players' accuracy will prove to be more important this week.
  • I have to start with Inbee Park. How can you not include one of the best short hitters in the game?  She's played less than almost any other big name player, yet her season's looking pretty good. Even when she doesn't make a "5 to Watch" list, rest assured that I never count her out... but she makes this one for sure.
  • I'm also going with defending champ Danielle Kang. She has only one LPGA win -- this event, last year. She's no long hitter and, as I said earlier, she doesn't get to defend on the course where she won. But both KPMGs, 2017 and 2018, are being played in Illinois, which means this is as close as it gets. Danielle's been inconsistent this season, but that's typical for her, and I think she'll be focused this week.
  • My flier at the US Women's Open was Nasa Hataoka; this time she's not a flier. I may have been a bit early with that pick, but she's proven I was right about her finally finding her stride on tour. Coming off a win in Arkansas, she can definitely make some noise this time.
  • How can I not pick So Yeon Ryu? I've been a fan for a long time and she makes these lists more times than not, but I love her game. Her play has been a bit uneven this season, but she has a win in the last month and she always seems to step forward in tough conditions. I think Kemper Lakes qualifies!
  • And my flier is... Shanshan Feng. I know, that sounds like a strange flier pick. She's a major winner, after all... and it's THIS major! Plus she's #4 in the Rolex Rankings. But despite three T3s and a T5 this season, she's having a fairly mediocre season (for her) and is flying way underneath the radar. Still, Shanshan has a tendency to show up when you least expect her, and I wouldn't be surprised if she won this event for a second time.
My pick is... So Yeon Ryu. I still remember how So Yeon won her first major, the 2011 US Women's Open at the Broadmoor in Colorado, over 6200 feet above sea level. Bad weather plagued the event -- every round spread out over multiple days, and after the tournament ran into Monday, she still had to play a three-hole aggregate playoff for not just her first major, but her first LPGA win. You want to talk about a grinder? That's So Yeon Ryu.

GC's coverage starts early on Thursday. Officially, it starts at 11am ET but GC will probably do a PreGame Show at 10:30am ET.

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