The South Korean golfer endured a chaotic final round to pull out the win. Plus: Lexi Thompson’s slip from victory, and Minjee Lee’s ascendancy.
On Her Grind
Chun In-Gee clinched the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last Sunday; in doing so, she marked her third career victory at a major LPGA tournament. She posted a 75 on the last competition day, finishing 5-under overall.
Impressively, Chun emerged victorious despite briefly losing the lead in the final round. “First nine holes [of the final day] I got a lot of pressure, so to be honest, I couldn’t enjoy [playing] golf,” Chun said of her struggles on Sunday. But she didn’t let that stop her from doing what she came to do in Maryland. “I believe if I stick to my game plan and then I believe I have a chance in the back nine, so I try to hang in there. I’m so happy I made it.” In essence, Chun persevered by relying on what made her a two-time major champion in the first place––even when she wasn’t finding joy in her playing. That ability to grind through burnout is what champions are made of.
The Value of Dramatics
“Meltdown.” “Heartbreak.” “Collapse.” These were all words used by golf publications to describe Lexi Thompson’s performance in the final round of the Championship. And while the phrasing of those analyses is harsh, Thompson did in fact face some unfortunate struggles. She lost her hard-fought lead in the last round after putting-related issues at the fourteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth holes; this dragged her down to a joint-runner-up finish. Then, to make matters worse, she was fined $2,000 for slow play during her disappointing final stretch.
But as a small bit of consolation, Thompson was able to provide great golf and great entertainment prior to her slip-up. “There literally may be nothing more dramatic in golf right now than Lexi with a lead on the back nine of a major,” wrote Brendan Porath of The Fried Egg. “It’s absolute must-see TV and she delivered that kind of product again on Sunday. […] It was exhilarating and exhausting.” Thompson’s struggles may have been rather painful for her (and let’s be real, for anyone with a heart) to experience. But the type of drama and stakes she served up during her Championship run––as well as the rebound fans should have faith in her to make––is still very valuable, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.
A Deadly Combo
It was a tale of two second-place finishes at the Women’s PGA Championship––while Thompson’s was regarded as disappointing, Minjee Lee’s was arguably proof of her excellence on this year’s Tour. She built off of her victory at the U.S. Women’s Open with a high finish in Maryland, tying Thompson’s tally and threatening for the title all tournament.
“This week her play was great,” Chun said about Lee’s tournament. “I want to give her credit because […] her game is pretty steady, so I want to learn something from her game, too.” It’s rare for a tournament champion to acknowledge that she still has things to learn from one of the runners-up––which speaks to Lee’s expertise on the course.
But make no mistake: Lee’s longevity won’t lead to complacency on her part any time soon. She revealed as much to the LPGA press room after her U.S. Women’s Open win: “I haven’t quite reached all my goals yet, so I’m not going to ease off on my training or anything. I’m still going to work extra hard.” It appears that Lee possesses a deadly combination on the course––experience in major tournaments and ambition for even more success. The rest of the LPGA had better watch out.
Up next for the 2022 Tour is a team event: the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational on July 13th. LPGA great Annika Sörenstam announced her intention to compete and pair up with Madelene Sagström. Fans of major golf tournaments should look ahead to July 21st, which is when the Amundi Evian Championship will commence; should Minjee Lee choose to enter the tournament, she’ll look to defend her title. More information on both of these events will likely be offered closer to their starting dates. But fans should already know one thing for certain: this year’s Tour is not one to miss.
A full schedule of the Evian Championship––the next major on the 2022 LPGA Tour––can be found here.