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.

2022 Rivalry Series: USA extends lead to 3-0 over Canada in women’s hockey showcase

Hilary Knight #21 of Team United States reacts after scoring a shorthanded goal in the second period during the Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal match.
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Hilary Knight had two goals and one assist to lead the U.S. women’s hockey team to a 4-2 win over Canada on Sunday, extending Team USA’s series lead to 3-0 in the seven-game 2022-23 Rivalry Series.

Savannah Harmon and Abby Roque also scored for the U.S., which has notched three consecutive wins against Canada for the first time since 2019. Goalie Nicole Hensley made 22 saves in front of a record-setting crown at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, where fan attendance totaled 14,551.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse scored for Canada, which captured gold \at both the IIHF Women’s World Championship in September and the Beijing Olympics in February.

Knight has enjoyed a standout 2022-23 Rivalry Series to date, registering six points (three goals, three assists) in the first three games including the game-winning goal in a shootout victory in Game 1 of the series on Tuesday and the game-winning assist in Game 2 on Thursday. Prior to the puck drop in Seattle on Sunday, Knight was presented with a golden stick to commemorate her record-breaking 87th career point in world championship play. Knight became the all-time points leader at the IIHF Women’s World Championship in September, when the eight-time world champion recorded one goal and one assist in Team USA’s 12-1 quarterfinal win over Hungary.

Sunday’s matchup between the U.S. and Canada marked the third game of the 2022-23 Rivalry Series and was the third matchup between the two teams in five days. The U.S. came in with a 2-0 series lead following a 2-1 victory on Thursday in Kamloops, B.C., and a 4-3 shootout victory — the first shootout in Rivalry Series history — in Kelowna, B.C., on Tuesday. It also was the first game for the U.S. national team on home soil since Dec. 17, 2021, when the team hosted Canada in St. Louis (Canada won 3-2 in overtime).

The 2022-23 Rivalry Series continues next month with two games in the U.S., set to be played in Las Vegas on Dec. 17 and Los Angeles on Dec. 19.

2022-23 Rivalry Series schedule, results

Tuesday, Nov. 15 USA 4, CAN 3 (SO) Kelowna, British Columbia NHL Network
Thursday, Nov. 17 USA 2, CAN 1 Kamloops, British Columbia NHL Network
Sunday, Nov. 20 USA 4, CAN 2 Seattle, Washington NHL Network
Thursday, Dec. 15 10 p.m. ET Henderson, Nevada NHL Network
Monday, Dec. 19 10 p.m. ET Los Angeles, California NHL Network

What is the Rivalry Series?

The Rivalry Series was introduced by USA Hockey and Hockey Canada during the 2018-19 season and designed as an annual showcase of the highest level of women’s hockey at various locations in the United States and Canada. The first series comprised three games between the two national teams, with Canada winning 2-1. Team USA took 2019-20 title, winning the expanded five-game series 4-1 and wrapping with an overtime win in the finale in front of a then-record-breaking total of 13,320 fans in Anaheim, California.

Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, the Rivalry Series resumed this season with seven games over three months: three in November, two in December and two in February.

The U.S. and Canada have battled in the gold-medal game of six of seven Winter Olympics and 20 of 21 IIHF Women’s World Championship, with the two exceptions being the 2019 World Championship and 2006 Olympics. The Canadian women are the reigning Olympic and world champions.

2022-23 Rivalry Series rewind: USA takes Games 1-2

Game 1 recap: USA 4, CAN 3, SO (Nov. 15): The series kicked off Tuesday with Team USA grabbing a 2-0 lead off goals from Hannah Brandt and Hilary Knight. But Canada battled back with three unanswered goals and held a 3-2 lead with 13 minutes to go in the third. With just 1:29 remaining in regulation, Alex Carpenter tied it for the Americans, sending the game to overtime. The U.S. ultimately won in a shootout, with Knight and Carpenter scoring while U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley made two key saves.

Game 2 recap: USA 2, CAN 1 (Nov. 17): Canada was first to get on the board Thursday when Marie-Philip Poulin capitalized off a penalty shot opportunity in the second period, but USA’s Kendall Coyne Schofield knotted the score just 1:12 later. Alex Carpenter scored the go-ahead tally with 6:36 remaining in the third to give the U.S. a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney recorded 19 saves in net.

Who’s playing in the 2022-23 Rivalry Series?

Team USA’s roster — led by coach John Wroblewski — for the November Rivalry Series games features 23 players, 16 of whom were part of the silver medal-winning team at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship in August:

  • Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights, Minn.)
  • Alex Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.)
  • Kendall Coyne Schofield (Palos Heights, Ill.)
  • Jincy Dunne (O’Fallon, Mo.)
  • Aerin Frankel(Chappaqua, N.Y.)
  • Rory Guilday (Minnetonka, Minn.)
  • Savannah Harmon (Downers Grove, Ill.)
  • Nicole Hensley (Lakewood, Colo.)
  • Megan Keller (Farmington Hills, Mich.)
  • Amanda Kessel (Madison, Wis.)
  • Hilary Knight (Sun Valley, Idaho)
  • Kelly Pannek (Plymouth, Minn.)
  • Abby Roque (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
  • Hayley Scamurra (Getzville, N.Y.)
  • Maddie Rooney (Andover, Minn.)
  • Lee Stecklein (Roseville, Minn.).

Team Canada’s 23-player roster, selected by coach Troy Ryan and director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury, features 16 players who were on the gold medal-winning team at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship and the 2022 Beijing Olympics (Canada beat , including:

  • Erin Ambrose
  • Kristen Campbell
  • Emily Clark
  • Ann-Renée Desbiens
  • Renata Fast
  • Brianne Jenner
  • Jocelyne Larocque
  • Emma Maltais
  • Emerance Maschmeyer
  • Sarah Nurse
  • Marie-Philip Poulin
  • Jamie Lee Rattray
  • Ella Shelton
  • Laura Stacey
  • Blayre Turnbull
  • Micah Zandee-Hart

Rivalry Series history

Following Sunday’s victory, the U.S. holds a 6-2-1-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record over Canada all time in the Rivalry Series. Canada won the 2018-19 Rivalry Series with a 2-0-0-1 record, while the U.S. won the 2019-20 Rivalry Series with a 3-1-1-0 record.

2019-20 Rivalry Series results

Dec. 14, 2019 USA 4, CAN 1 Hartford, Connecticut Alex Cavallini
Dec. 17, 2019 USA 2, CAN 1 Moncton, N.B. Alex Carpenter
Feb. 3, 2020 CAN 3, USA 2 (OT) Victoria, B.C. Hilary Knight
Feb. 5, 2020 USA 3, CAN 1 Vancouver, B.C. Katie Burt
Feb. 8, 2020 USA 4, CAN 3 (OT) Anaheim, California Megan Bozek

2018-19 Rivalry Series results

Feb. 12 USA 1, CAN 0 London, Ontario
Feb. 14 CAN 4, USA 3 Toronto, Ontario
Feb. 17 CAN 2, USA 0 Detroit Michigan

Atthaya Thitikul takes LPGA rookie-of-year honors in stride ahead of Tour Championship

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand smiles after the birdie on the 6th green during the second round of the TOTO Japan Classic.
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To say that Atthaya Thitikul has enjoyed a breakout rookie LPGA season is a bit of an understatement, but keeping things low-key is exactly how 19-year-old “Jeeno” likes it.

As the 2022 season concludes this week at the CME Group Tour Championship, Thitikul has already captured two LPGA titles, held the No. 1 spot in the world rankings and collected the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. But the current world No. 2 displays a wise-beyond-her-years ethos when she says what she’s most proud of this season is her mindset.

“[I’m]19 years old — I think I’m still young to handle all the things that I have now,” Thitikul told On Her Turf ahead of this week’s season finale in Naples, Fla. “I didn’t say that I handled it well, but I’ve just said that I think I can handle it. I can do it. And yeah, it’s turned out to be pretty good this year.”

To keep herself in check, the Thailand native keeps her philosophy posted on her Instagram profile, which reads, “Be you, be happy and everything will be fine.” Thitikul, who on Oct. 31 joined 18-time LPGA winner Lydia Ko as the only players in tour history to reach No. 1 before their 20th birthday, said she took stock of poor performances on the golf course and found they all had one thing in common: She wasn’t being herself.

“I didn’t have fun,” she says of those unsatisfactory rounds. “I was expecting a lot of results on the golf course, not really talking, not really enjoying it. So I think being myself, have fun, keep smiling, keep laughing and talking with other players or talking with my caddie, joking around — I think it’s the best that I can do.”

Golf has always been fun for Thitikul, who grew up in northeast Thailand and was introduced to the sport at age 6 through her father and grandfather, both of whom were not golfers themselves but recognized the opportunity that golf might provide. Thitikul teases that her grandfather was enamored with Tiger Woods, but after her first golf experience with a professional in Bangkok, she was hooked, too.

“They asked me when I finished practicing, do I like it? And I say, ‘Yeah, I do.’ Because [there were] a lot of friends and when I practice, it seemed fun and it seemed not like other sports that I have been watching on TV,” she recalls.

Thitikul’s ascent to the top of her sport was swift: In February 2017, just three days after her 14th birthday, she made her first LPGA tournament appearance at the Honda LPGA Thailand and finished 37th out of 66 players. Just five months later, Thitikul made headlines when she became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tour event at age 14 years, 4 months and 19 days old, winning the Ladies European Thailand Championship on the Ladies European Tour (LET).

RELATED: 2022 CME Group Tour Championship — How to watch, who’s playing in LPGA’s season finale

For three more years, Thitikul resisted turning professional, racking up multiple international amateur victories and plenty of tour experience, notching her first LPGA top-10 finish in March 2018 at the HSBC Women’s World Championship (T-8) and earning low amateur honors that same year at two majors, the ANA Inspiration (T-30) and Women’s British Open (T-64). The following year, she won the Ladies European Thailand Championship for the second time in three years, earned low amateur honors at the British Open (finishing T-29) for the second straight year and was No. 1 on the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

In her first year as a pro, during the pandemic-impacted 2020 season, Thitikul broke through for her first professional win in July at the Thai LPGA Championship. She finished the season with five Thai LPGA wins and topped the money list.

Thitikul moved to the LET in 2021, winning the Czech Ladies Open in June, and just a month later she moved into the top 100 on the world rankings for the first time at No. 89. She finished 2021 with two wins, three runner-ups and nine additional top-10 finishes, securing the LET Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year titles and becoming just the fourth player to win both awards in the same season.

After finishing third at LPGA Qualifying School to earn her card for 2022, Thitikul didn’t miss a beat in her meteoric rise this season. She posted two top-10s in her first four starts before striking a staff deal with Callaway, which she followed up by winning her first LPGA title in March at the JTBC Classic. She carded an 8-under 64 in the final round to force a playoff and Nanna Koerstz Madsen on the second extra hole. She earned her second LPGA title in September at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, tying the tournament record of 61 in the second round and beating Danielle Kang in a playoff.

As for the pressure of being a teen phenom, Thitikul admits she can’t ignore it but has figured out how to turn it around to her advantage: “It’s still so hard because I think as players want to be on top and we put the pressure on ourselves, and there’s a lot of eyes on us. … But at the same time, it’s kind of like you couldn’t win every week, you couldn’t have a good day every day. It’s golf. I like to think of pressure as a challenge. I put a lot of pressure on myself, but I think of it as challenging.”

Away from the golf course, Thitikul enjoys spending time with friends, watching Korean television dramas and indulging in Asian food (Chinese and Korean are favorites). Although she doesn’t have a pet, she says she’s a dog person, and prefers the mountains to the beach, as she loves to hike.

But don’t expect too much lounging, hiking or other non-golf activities on Thitikul’s itinerary after this season wraps on Sunday.

“This offseason, we have a lot of work to do,” she says.” There are a lot of things I still have to learn – not just for next year but for [beyond.] … But hopefully next year, it’s going to be nice and good for me as well. I really want to have a major win in my career. I don’t know if it’s going to happen next year, but hopefully.”