2022 Kroger Queen City Championship: How to watch, who’s playing in LPGA’s return to Cincinnati

Gaby Lopez of Mexico reacts to her birdie on the 18th green during the final round of the Dana Open.
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The LPGA returns to the Cincinnati area for the first time in more than 30 years with this week’s inaugural Kroger Queen City Championship.

Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who captured her third LPGA title last week at the Dana Open, will be among the headliners at Kenwood Country Club’s Kendale Course, where 144 players will compete for the $1,750,000 prize pool. Last week in Sylvania, Ohio, the 28-year-old Lopez rallied from four strokes down on the final day to secure a one-shot victory over Megan Khang. Lopez, who hails from Mexico City and played college golf at Arkansas, closed with three straight birdies to post an 8-under 63 in the final round and finish at 18-under 266.

Women’s professional golf was last in the Cincinnati area in the 1980s, when the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was held at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Center at nearby Kings Island from 1978 through 1989. The first championship was won by Nancy Lopez, who ultimately won three Women’s PGA titles at the course, including the last tournament held there in 1989.

How to watch the 2022 Kroger Queen City Championship

Coverage of the 2022 Kroger Queen City Championship from Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, can be found on Golf Channel, with streaming options available any time on any mobile device and online through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

  • Thursday, Sept. 8: 4-7 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, Sept. 9: 4-7 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, Sept. 10: 2-5 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, Sept. 11: 2-5 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2022 Kroger Queen City Championship

Notable names in the field of 144 players at Kenwood Country Club include six of the top 10 players (and 16 of the top 25) on the Rolex Rankings:

  • No. 3 Minjee Lee
  • No. 5 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 6 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 7 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 8 Hyo Joo Kim
  • No. 9 Nasa Hataoka

Four of this year’s major champions – Chevron Championship winner Jennifer Kupcho, U.S. Women’s Open champion Lee, Evian Championship winner Henderson, and AIG Women’s Open winner Ashleigh Buhai – also are in the field along with Jessica Korda, Sei Young Kim, Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang.

Three amateurs are in the field, including Anna Davis, who won the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and was given a sponsor’s exemption along with Emma McMyler, who plays college golf at nearby Xavier and is a two-time Big East Women’s Golf Player of the Year.

For the third week in a row, 14-year-old Gianna Clemente earned her spot in an LPGA event through Monday qualifying. Of the 22 players who attempted to qualify at Kenwood on Monday, only two broke par, with Clemente earning medalist honors at 7-under par. Clemente is the youngest player ever to Monday qualify for three straight LPGA events and just the second overall to do so, joining Hee-Won Han who qualified for the LPGA Takefuji Classic, Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open and Welch’s-Circle K Championship in 2001.

More about Kenwood Country Club

Kenwood Country Club was created in 1929 chose its location northeast of Cincinnati with the help of noted golf course architect Donald Ross, who was hired to give a written report detailing his first-choice location. Indianapolis architect Bill Diddel was hired to lay out the original 36 holes, all of which were renovated by Fry/Straka Global Golf Course Design firm during the pandemic. Approximately 1,000 trees were removed from the property, and all 18 greens were expanded to their original size, with bunkers throughout the course restructured to fit the original design.

The official scorecard for Kenwood’s Kendale Course plays as a par 72 (36-36), with yardage stretching to 6,515 yards. The Kendale Course has hosted several national championships, including the 1933 men’s U.S. Amateur, the 1946 men’s U.S. Open (won by Lloyd Mangrum) and the 1963 U.S. Women’s Open, which was won by Mary Mills. The then-23-year-old Mills was the only player to finish under par for the tournament, beating Louise Suggs and Sandra Haynie by three strokes.

The NBC golf research team contributed to this report.

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Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”

2022 Ascendant LPGA: How to watch, who’s playing in Texas’s annual signature event

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand hits her second shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
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The LPGA make its annual stop in The Colony, Texas, this week for the 10th edition of the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, where Thailand’s 19-year-old rookie Atthaya Thitikul comes in hot off her second career win and second playoff victory this season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Leading the 132-player field at Old American Golf Club, located at Golf Clubs at The Tribute, are Texas residents and past champions Cheyenne Knight and Angela Stanford. They’ll compete for the $1.7 million prize purse alongside major champions Nelly KordaLydia Ko and Brooke Henderson. Last year’s Ascendant LPGA champion, world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, will not be defending her title after announcing earlier this month she would be missing several weeks due to a nagging wrist injury.

This past weekend in Arkansas, Thitikul took the lead with a 10-under 61 in the second round and shot 68 in the final round to finish regulation tied with Danielle Kang at 17-under 196. Thitikul, who won the JTBC Classic in March in a two-hole playoff vs. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, drained an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure the win over Kang.

How to watch the 2022 Ascendant LPGA 

Coverage of the 2022 Ascendant LPGA from Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, can be found on Golf Channel, with streaming options available any time on any mobile device and online through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

  • Thursday, Sept. 29: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, Sept. 30: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, Oct. 2: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2022 Ascendant LPGA

Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex World Rankings are among the field in Texas, including:

  • No. 2 Nelly Korda
  • No. 4 Lydia Ko
  • No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 7 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka

A number of local Texans also are in the tournament, headlined by past champions, Angela Stanford (2020) and Cheyenne Knight (2019), and two junior champions of the Volunteers of America Classic Girls Championship, who are playing on a sponsor exemption: Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang (2022), a freshman at SMU, and Avery Zweig (2021), a high school sophomore from McKinney, Texas.

Past five champions of The Ascendant LPGA

2021 Jin Young Ko (South Korea) 16-under 268 1 stroke Matilda Castren
2020 Angela Stanford (USA) 7-under 277 2 strokes So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Yealimi Noh
2019 Cheyenne Knight (USA) 18-under 266 2 strokes Brittany Altomare, Jaye Marie Green
2018 Sung Hyun Park (South Korea) 11-under 131 1 stroke Lindy Duncan
2017 Haru Nomura (Japan) 3-under 281 Playoff Christie Kerr

Last time at The Ascendant LPGA

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko carded a final-round 69 to maintain her 54-hole lead at Old American Golf Club and held on for a one stroke win at the 2021 Volunteers of America Classic, her eighth career LPGA tour title. Ko finished regulation at 16-under 268, edging Finland’s Matilda Castren by one stroke.

It kicked off a five-win season for Ko, who had just lost her No. 1 ranking to Nelly Korda the week prior after holding the top spot for 100 straight weeks. She regained the No. 1 ranking back in October 2021, after earning her fourth win in seven starts at the BMW Ladies Championship.

More about Old American Golf Club

Opened in 2010, the Old American Golf Club is one of two clubs at The Tribute, a lakefront resort community on Lewisville Lake in The Colony, Texas. Designed by Tripp Davis and 12-time PGA Tour winner Justin Leonard, Old American plays as a Par 71 and stretches to 6,475 yards on the tournament scorecard.