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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My "5 to Watch" at the KPMG

It's time once again for me to pick my "5 to Watch" at a major. This will be a busy week, however, with two majors to pick. Later this week I'll be picking for the US Senior Open.

Today I pick the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. Brooke Henderson is the defending champion.

Brooke Henderson with the 2016 KPMG trophy

As usual, Tony Jesselli has a preview of the event which you can access via this link. Tony and his wife also plan to attend this week, so they'll be posting pics as the week goes on.

The big story, as Tony points out, is that we will once again see the Rolex #1 ranking up for grabs -- this week by four players. So Yeon Ryu took that spot with her win in Arkansas last week, but Ariya Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson can all potentially usurp her authority with a win this week.

Which brings me to my "5 to Watch." Ironically, neither Ariya nor Lydia make my picks at this major. The fact that Ariya hasn't played in the last couple of events bothers me. I can't shake the feeling that that there's an injury of some sort involved, although I've heard nothing to substantiate that. As for Lydia, I simply don't think she's quite got her new swing working on all cylinders yet. (Ask me again at the US Women's Open in a couple of weeks.)

Olympia Fields, the course for this major, is a long one (for the LPGA) clocking in at nearly 6600 yards. But as we saw with Brian Harman's performance at Erin Hills, length in and of itself isn't the determinant that so many believe it is. I'm keeping that in mind with my picks.
  • So Yeon Ryu was my pick to win the ANA back in March, which she did. And then she became the first two-time winner of the season last week in Arkansas. Her game has been magnificent all year. To be blunt, I'm not stupid. I'm putting her on my list again.
  • Lexi Thompson also makes my list this time. We can argue whether Lexi would have won the ANA had it not been for that ridiculous ruling that cost her four shots. (I'm not blaming the LPGA, they had to make the ruling. But that doesn't mean the rule they had to enforce wasn't ridiculous.) I think Lexi feels she's owed a major, and I expect her to play like it this week. I just hope she doesn't try so hard she gets in her own way.
  • Michelle Wie was my flier at the ANA, but she's no longer a flier pick. Her growing consistency this season makes her a solid pick on any course, but I think the critical aspect is that she clearly believes she can win now. I firmly expect her to have a chance at one of this summer's majors, and I see no reason that this one couldn't be it.
  • Likewise, Stacy Lewis is well on the road to the winner's circle again. Had it not been for So Yeon's 61 on Saturday last week, Stacy could have gotten her first win in three years. With her game in shape, teeing it up at her sponsor's major, I have to think that she (like Wie) is finally in a good place to make a run at another major.
  • And for my flier... wow, this is a tough one. I can think of several players who are playing well enough to take that extra step this week. But I'm going for someone who already has a major -- Mo Martin. Mo is probably the shortest hitter on the LPGA, but she's been playing some really good golf this season. Just call it the Harman Effect -- as accurate as she is, all she needs is one hot week of putting to grab her second major.
But in the end, my pick is a no-brainer. I have to pick So Yeon Ryu again. It's possible that she'll have a letdown this week, but even her bad weeks are generally Top10s. I like her chances to go 2-for-2 this season.

Since this is a major, GC (and NBC over the weekend) will give it some serious live coverage. GC's coverage starts Thursday at 12:30pm ET.