OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- Wednesday's notes from the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
THE VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT
Enhancing Championship week was today’s 3rd Annual KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which was hosted on-site at Olympia Fields Country Club. The event brings together highly accomplished leaders in business, politics, sports and the media to inspire the next generation of women leaders. KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie, 66th U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty served as keynote speakers this year. Olympic medalists Michelle Kwan, Angela Ruggiero and Lindsey Vonn also participated in the Summit, sharing their experiences gained as elite athletes.
Net proceeds from the Championship and Summit fund the KPMG Future Leaders Program. This Program affords top female high school seniors across the country the opportunity to enhance their personal growth through college scholarships, a leadership development retreat at Stanford University, a mentoring relationship with a woman business leader, and an introduction to golf.
OLYMPIANS ENCOURAGE YOUNG WOMEN TO HIT THE COURSE
Golf has a platform in the Olympic Games at least through 2024, and you can count on three Olympians who didn’t specialize in the game in supporting its future.
Skier Lindsay Vonn, figure skater Michelle Kwan and hockey defenseman Angela Ruggiero – who competed in a combined nine Olympics - appeared Wednesday at Olympia Fields Country Club as featured speakers in the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit.
"I think women in golf, you know, they've definitely had a hard time being at the same level as men," said Vonn. "I think that what we're trying to do here and what KPMG is doing for women in golf, I think that's incredible, and it needs to be done. Women in any sport but especially in golf, they play just as hard and they play just as well, and they deserve more opportunities.”
Ruggiero, whose Olympic career spanned from 1998 to 2006, said that such a dream wasn’t available when she began playing in her youth. “I didn't know that I could play in the Olympics because women's hockey wasn't in the Olympics,” she said “So it's really exciting now, again, to have young girls be able to look up and say, I could pick up a golf club and actually compete at the highest level one day and maybe get a scholarship at a university, and one, I think it'll encourage parents to sign their daughters up and their sons, having that platform. But two, there is just the experience of going. You literally just change as a person, and your life is different when you get that opportunity.”
Ruggiero said that even if a young girl watches this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and gets excited to pick up a club. “You're a golfer for life, and you have a skill in a sport that you can enjoy for many other reasons. Definitely pick up a club and try.”
Kwan, a silver (1998) and bronze Olympic medalist (2002), said to represent her country was an overwhelming experience, and “to zip up the team uniform outfit, and you're like, Team USA, bright stars and stripes. I'm only 5'2" but I felt like a giant.”
“I encourage kids to, like Angela said, pick up the club, go ice skating, go skiing, and try it. You might shoot for the stars, you might make it to the Olympic Games, but if not, you have this incredible hobby that you're an athlete for life.”
Inbee Park will play in her 11th KPMG Women’s PGA Championship this week at Olympia Fields. Three of her seven major championship victories came in this event (2013, 2014, 2015) as she joined Annika Sorenstam as the only other player to win this event in three consecutive years.
Park missed the cut in this event for the first time in her career last year, but with the start she became the youngest player ever to qualify for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame at 27 years old.
In 2017, the World No. 7 hasn’t finished outside the top 25 in eleven starts and has four top-6 finishes, including capturing the 18th LPGA victory of her career at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
Two-time major champion and KPMG ambassador Stacy Lewis is making her ninth career start at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She has finished inside the top 15 six times in her career, including a runner-up finish in 2012. Through 13 starts in 2017, Lewis has racked up nine top-25 finishes including a season-best runner-up finish at the Bank of Hope Founder’s Cup in March. Lewis has made 76 starts since her last victory at the 2014 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
RIDING SOME MAJOR SUCCESS
Defending champion Brooke Henderson became the second-youngest player in LPGA history to win a major championship when she won the 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. The 19-year old became the youngest winner on Tour this season with her win at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. Henderson, a 2015 LPGA rookie, has made 13 career starts at major championships including the aforementioned victory and seven additional top-25 finishes.
During the 2016 LPGA season, the five major champions represented five different countries including New Zealand (Lydia Ko, ANA Inspiration), Canada (Brooke Henderson, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship), U.S.A. (Brittany Lang, U.S. Women’s Open), Thailand (Ariya Jutanugarn, Ricoh Women’s British Open) and South Korea (In Gee Chun, Evian Championship). The 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship marks the second major of the LPGA season. South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu won the first major championship in April at the ANA Inspiration.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS, AT LEAST THIS YEAR
It’s not even July, and in 16 LPGA tournaments this year, a player 26 or older has won 10 times. LPGA players aged 26 or older won only 8 times in 33 events in 2016.
IF YOU CANNOT BE HERE, TUNE IN, YOU WON’T BE ALONE
NBC and Golf Channel will combine to show at least 29 hours of KPMG Women’s PGA Championship coverage, which includes 12 televised hours of live coverage, along with re-airs following each round (17 additional hours). In all, the 2017 Championship will be broadcast in 167 countries and territories worldwide, reaching 600 million households.
CHICAGO STARS SHINE
A number of celebrities and Chicago legends were on-hand for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Pro-Am yesterday at Olympia Fields Country Club. Headlining the list were: former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Olympic Medalist Michelle Kwan, former NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson, Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher, TV personality Drew Scott, and former Chicago Cubs and Baseball Hall-of-Famers Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux. Maddux and Jackson teamed up with defending KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Brooke Henderson and KPMG Global Chairman John Veihmeyer to take home low-gross honors in the morning wave of the Pro-Am after firing a 59.
PHOTO GALLERY: Best images from KPMG Women's PGA Championship Pro-Am
DUAL-GENDER MAJOR VENUES
There are 22 venues that have hosted men’s and women’s major golf championships in the modern era, including this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club. At closer glance, the roster includes: