Key storylines, top players to follow at the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Lexi Thompson smiles as they walk to the 11th green during the first round of the Palos Verdes Championship.
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The 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship kicks off on Thursday (broadcast schedule, course details, event history here) at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Ahead of the LPGA’s third major of the season, which will feature 18 of the top 20 players in the Rolex Rankings, here are a few of the players and biggest storylines to follow. 

2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Key players to know at Congressional

Nelly Korda

  • As the defending champ, the 23-year-old Korda will look to join Mickey Wright (1960-61), Patty Sheehan (1983-84) and Juli Inkster (1999-2000) – and three-peaters Annika Sorenstam (2003-04-05) and Inbee Park (2013-14-15) – as the only players to successfully defend their Women’s PGA Championship titles. The 23-year-old Korda, ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, was diagnosed with a blood clot in her left arm in March, forcing her to step away from competition for two months. She returned to action in June at the U.S. Women’s Open and finished T-8, and she held the 54-hole lead last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic before falling in the playoff.

Jin Young Ko

  • The fifth-year LPGA veteran is a 13-time LPGA winner with two major titles on her resume, the 2019 Chevron Championship and 2019 Amundi Evian Championship. The 26-year-old Ko, who ranks No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings and hails from South Korea, ranks third on the LPGA in scoring average in major championships going back to 2017, at 70.85. Only world No. 12 and 2020 KPMG winner Sei Young Kim (70.63) and Inbee Park (70.82) have a better scoring average in that span. She has five top-five finishes in majors since 2019, tied for most of anyone in that span.

Lexi Thompson

  • It’s only a matter of time before the No. 6-ranked Thompson wins a tournament given her recent form: She has five top 10s in eight starts this season with two solo second-place finishes. No player has hit more greens in regulation this season than Thompson (76.5%) and she has 12 top-five finishes in the majors since 2013, tied for second-most in that span.

Minjee Lee

  • The 26-year-old from Australia, No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings, captured her second career major title this year at the U.S. Open, and her second title of the season after also winning the Cognizant Founders Cup in May. She also has two podiums this season, finishing T-2 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and T-3 at the LA Open. Of note, since the start of 2021, no player has had a better cumulative score to par in the majors than Lee has at 38-under-par (Nelly Korda ranks second at 34 under).

Lydia Ko

  • The 25-year-old New Zealander, ranked world No. 4, captured her 17th career LPGA win in January at the Gainbridge LGPA at Boca Rio, where she beat Danielle Kang by a stroke. On the season, she has six top 10s in 11 starts with her worst finish being a T-25 at the Chevron Championship.

Jessica Korda

  • The 29-year-old sister of last year’s champion, Nelly Korda, has finished in the top-10 in three of six events in 2022 and arrives at Congressional off a T-5 at the Meijer LPGA Classic in her last start. Jessica, a six-time LPGA winner who stands at No. 14 in the world rankings, ranks ninth in rounds in the 60s and 14th in average driving distance.

Jennifer Kupcho

  • The 25-year-old Wake Forest product, ranked No. 9, captured her first major in March at the Chevron Championship, and she won last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic against a similar field, including a playoff against Nelly Korda and Ireland’s Leona Maguire. Kupcho is ninth on tour in total birdies and fifth in eagles.

Brooke Henderson

  • The 11-time LPGA winner recently added to her resume at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, shooting 64 in the final round and beating Lindsey Weaver-Wright in a playoff. She won the KPMG title in 2016 and finished runner-up in 2017. Of note, the 24-year-old world No. 8 has posted eight bogey-free rounds this season, tied for the most on tour.

Past winners of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Year Winner  Venue  Score Margin Runner(s)-up
 2021 Nelly Korda (USA) Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Ga. 19-under 269 Three strokes Lizette Salas (USA)
 2020 Sei Young Kim (South Korea) Aronimink Golf Club, Newtown Square, Penn. 14-under 266 Five strokes Inbee Park (South Korea)
 2019 Hannah Green (Australia)

Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minn.

9-under 279 One stroke Sung Hyun Park (South Korea)
 2018 Sung Hyun Park (South Korea) Kemper Lakes Golf Club, Kildeer, Ill. 10-under 278 Won in playoff Nasa Hataoka (Japan), So Yeon Ryu (South Korea)
 2017 Danielle Kang (USA) Olympia Fields Golf Club (North Course), Olympia Fields, Ill. 13-under 271 One stroke Brooke Henderson (Canada)
 2016 Brooke Henderson (Canada)

Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish, Wash.

6-under 278 Won in playoff Lydia Ko (New Zealand)
 2015 Inbee Park (South Korea) Westchester Country Club (West Course), Harrison, N.Y. 19-under 273 Five strokes Sei Young Kim (South Korea)
 2014 Inbee Park (South Korea)

Monroe Golf Club, Pittsford, N.Y.

11-under 277 Won in playoff Brittany Lincicome (USA)
 2013 Inbee Park (South Korea)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, N.Y.

5-under 283 Won in playoff Catriona Matthew (Scotland)
 2012 Shanshan Feng (China)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, N.Y.

6-under 282 Two strokes Mika Miyazato (Japan), Stacy Lewis (USA), Suzann Pettersen (Sweden), Eun-Hee Ji (South Korea)
 2011 Yani Tseng (Taiwan)

Locust Hill Country Club, Pittsford, N.Y.

19-under 269 10 strokes Morgan Pressel (USA)

The NBC golf research team contributed to this report.