OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill -- Tuesday's notes from the 2017 KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
BIG NEWS FROM OLYMPIA FIELDS
KPMG announced today that it will extend its title sponsorship agreement with the PGA of America and the LPGA through the 2023 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Today’s news extends the collaboration of the three entities, which debuted at Westchester Country Club in 2015, to nine years. This agreement also includes an enhanced purse of $3.65 million beginning next year as the Championship moves 60 minutes north, but still within the Chicagoland region, to Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, Illinois.
RYU TO SEIZE GREEN BIB AS TOP-RANKED PLAYER
By winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G over the weekend, So Yeon Ryu became the new World No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. In accordance with LPGA tradition, Ryu will receive the coveted green bib on Thursday -- prior to her 1:40 p.m. tee time on the 10th tee -- as part of the official changeover of becoming the top-ranked player the world.
The 26-year-old Ryu becomes the third player from the Republic of Korea to reach No. 1 in LPGA history, joining Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin. Ryu made 143 career LPGA starts and missed only five cuts before ascending to No. 1, earning five wins, including two major championships, and 67 additional top-10 finishes. Ryu climbed from No. 3 to No. 1 this week, and is the 11th different golfer to reach No. 1 since the rankings started in 2006.
On Thursday, Ryu will be assuming the green bib and its accompanying top spot in the rankings from Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, who replaced New Zealand’s Lydia Ko as the World No. 1 with a win at the Manulife LPGA Classic on June 12. Ko had held the ranking’s top spot for the previous 85 weeks.
100 MAKES 100% … AGAIN
The field for the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is again a strong one, as each of the top 100 members on the LPGA Official Money List is present this week at Olympia Fields Country Club. Top-100 LPGA talent also had perfect attendance at last year’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington.
CAMERON MCCORMICK STILL RELISHING A TEACHING BONANZA
Few golf instructors anywhere could match the past weekend of Cameron McCormick. The 2015 PGA Teacher of the Year and PGA Director of Instruction at Altus Performance Institute in Dallas, Texas, watched with pride as two of his students – No. 3 world-ranked Jordan Spieth and women’s No. 1-ranked So Yeon Ryu – won respective titles in the Travelers Championship and Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship. McCormick, 44, has coached Spieth since his youth and in early 2016 became Ryu’s personal swing instructor.
ROUNDING INTO FORM
Defending KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Brooke Henderson enters this year’s Championship two weeks removed from her fourth career LPGA win at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Henderson carded a career-low 63 in the first round en route to a two-stroke victory over Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie. On the season, Henderson has 12 top-25 finishes in 15 starts and currently ranks third in birdies made with 206.
The 19-year-old Canadian is seeking to go two-for-two in successful title defenses in her three-year LPGA career. Her first of four LPGA victories came at the 2015 Cambia Portland Classic, and she successfully defended that title last season.
Not too long ago, Ariya Jutanugarn was crowned a champion at Olympia Fields Country Club. The 21-year-old World No. 2 won the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship on the South Course, defeating Dottie Ardina, 2 and 1. Other players in this week’s field who competed in the 2011 Girls’ Junior include: Alison Lee (lost in third round of match play), Annie Park (lost in second round), Karen Chung (lost in quarterfinals), Angel Yin (lost in first round), Megan Khang (lost in second round) and Brooke Henderson (lost in first round). Ariya’s sister, Moriya, qualified for the championship, but withdrew prior to the start of the competition with a wrist injury. Instead, she caddied for Ariya the entire week.
ALMOST A DOCTOR, CURDT MAKES HER OWN HOUSE CALL
PGA Master Professional Alison Curdt of Woodland Hills, California, returns to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for the second time in three years and would like to spend the weekend.
“Each trip has allowed me to be a little less nervous and more excited,” said Curdt, who earned her berth at Olympia Field as a runner-up in the PGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship back in February.
The 35-year-old PGA Master Professional and Florida State University graduate is the product of 10 years of academic training.
Last October, Curdt earned her California license in clinical psychotherapy as a marriage and family therapist. She is on track to earn her doctoral degree in August 2018. She already is America’s only woman PGA Master Professional trained in Clinical Psychology.
“My academic background is a wonderful platform to help me prepare for this kind of event,” said Curdt. “It’s the work that I do with all my clients. It’s how to perform the best in your life when you can, when the pressure is really heavy.
“My own studies in terms of strategies, coping mechanisms and ways of thinking have not only helped me on a personal level play better golf, but certainly that kind of academia has helped me let my clients be better prepared for their lives.”
This week, Curdt will have a bigger gallery following her at Olympia Fields Country Club. A native of St. Louis, family and friends will make the four-hour drive to Olympia Fields.
“I hope this trip continues. I don’t feel like it’s my last one,” said Curdt. “I’m super excited to be at this location. It’s so close to my family in St. Louis. They will be able to come for the first time to a golf tournament and watch ‘Aunt Ally’ play golf.”