NEW YORK (AP) — Suzann Pettersen is coming off a win in Canada with new coach Butch Harmon and looking for her third major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
She’ll be paired with two-time defending champion Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson on Thursday at the Westchester Country Club. The tournament, run by the PGA of America for the first time, is the second of the LPGA Tour’s five major championships.
Pettersen, who birdied the 17th hole Sunday to clinch her 15th LPGA Tour victory by one stroke, appreciates Harmon’s coaching style.
“He’s very current. He works with the best male players in the world,” Pettersen said. “They all have different skills. I got to play a round of golf with Phil Mickelson, which was very inspirational for me. Got to kind of pick his brain about his short game.”
Park has had a strong start this season and can return to No. 1 in the world if she wins this week. The South Korean is second on the tour in putting and leads in most rounds under par and top 10 finishes.
“You have to be accurate with the irons, and you have to putt really well,” Park said of the West Course. “It’s very slopey greens. You’ve really got to be careful.”
Park’s play on the greens has improved since a recent change in putters.
“I’ve been putting in the 20s quite a lot of times,” said Park, who’s won four of the last 11 majors. “That’s where I want to be.”
Top-ranked teenager Lydia Ko has won five times on the LPGA Tour since turning professional in 2013 and she won two as an amateur. But the 18-year-old from New Zealand has struggled this season and finished 27th on Sunday.
Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American at No. 3, missed the cut in Canada. She tied for second in this event at the then-LPGA Championship in 2012 in Pittsford, New York.
Thompson, one of the longest hitters on the tour, said the 6,670-yard, par-73 course will be a challenge. The Westchester Country Club was the longtime home of the PGA Tour event now called The Barclays.
“I’m definitely going to be bombing driver out there,” said the 20-year-old Thompson, who won her first major at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship. “But it’s a great golf course, amazing layout, playing tough, even the par 3s are pretty long.”
Here are some things to know about the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, which features a $3.5 million purse, among the highest in women’s golf. It will start under steamy conditions on Thursday, when temperatures are expected to reach 90 degrees.
KERR ON WCC: Cristie Kerr often plays at the Westchester Country Club, which was built in 1922. She calls it “a scenic, beautiful, tough-as-nails golf course. We are great players and it’s great to be on a venue that has this much history to it. In the player dining, you look up and Seve (Balleseros’) picture is on the wall, Hale Irwin, all the greats. Then at the end there will be one female with the trophy up there, so that’s really cool. That’s groundbreaking.”
BIG IMPACT: Brittany Lincicome rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday and the markets went down. That night, she threw out the first pitch at the New York Mets game and they were no-hit by rookie Chris Heston in a 5-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
MAJOR TITLES: World Golf Hall of Famer Juli Inkster (54), 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Laura Davies (51) and former No. 1 Yani Tseng (26) own a combined 16 major championships. Each have won two Women’s PGA Championships. The threesome begins play Thursday afternoon. England’s Charley Hull (19), the youngest to compete on a Solheim Cup Team, makes her debut in the event. The winner of the championship will receive $525,000.
ELITE PAIR: Park is trying to join elite company by winning the same major title three consecutive years. Only Annika Sorenstam (2003-2005, Women’s PGA Championship) and Patty Berg (1937-39 Titleholders Championship) have accomplished that feat.
WIE’S HIP: Michelle Wie has been slowed by bursitis in her left hip. Wie, who won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open last year, missed the cut in Canada. She’s had just three rounds in the 60s this season and two top 25s. “I’m feeling good,” said Wie after rest and physical therapy. “So I’m just trying to be patient and listen to my body.”
This story has been corrected to show that Petterson has 15 tour wins, not 16 and that Ko has five wins as a pro, two as amateur.
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