BETHESDA, Maryland. There’s something special about pulling into the parking lot of a former champion at a Congressional country club for a proper day off. Brooke Henderson revisits that fateful day in Sahali when she beat world No. 1 Lydia Ko in the playoffs as she walks up to her locker stamped “past champion”.
Henderson’s only big win came six years ago at the KPMG Women’s PGA, and this year she’s in the championship thanks to her recent triumph at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
“Every time I go back to this event,” she said, “I just try to recreate what I was doing back then and hopefully start quickly on Thursday.”
The best Canadian golfer of all time will be joined in the first round by 2021 KPMG Champion Nelly Korda and three-time winner Inby Park, who won the tournament from 2013 to 2015. the newly refurbished Blue Field, hosting the first professional women’s event.
Field 156 will fight for $9 million, doubling last year’s wallet.
Brooke Henderson is hit by the 13th court during the final round of the 2022 ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey. (Photo: Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
Park, a seven-time major tournament winner, skipped the US Women’s Open earlier this month to get back in better shape. This week she stayed at the home of her best friend who lives 30 minutes away in Fairfax, Virginia.
“I don’t know how I did it,” said Park, sweeping the event three years in a row. “Yes, if you ask me if I can do it now, I think it will be almost impossible. Then I just – my game and everything was in great shape, and I probably gave my best a lot better than now.
While Henderson and Park struggle to end major championship droughts (Pac’s last major win came in 2015), Korda is trying to extend his streak to two years in a row.
Last year at the Atlanta Athletic Club, Korda rose to world No. 1 when she won her first major tournament. So much has happened to the young American since then, from winning Olympic gold to struggling after surgery to remove a blood clot in her left subclavian vein.
After finishing in the top 10 in her first event in four months at the Women’s Open at the Pine Needles, Korda lost in the playoffs last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic where she also won in 2021.
“Ever since I started hitting, it’s been kind of underway,” Korda said of her return to golf.
“Since then, I haven’t taken more than two or three days off. I’m just happy to be here and play competitive golf. I gave myself a chance last week. If you had told me that when I was in intensive care, I would definitely be very happy about it.”
When asked what she attributed her strong game at the gate to, Korda replied that it was not only mental, but also hard work on her game and body.
“I think it also has to do with attitudes towards playing golf,” she said. “It seems to me that the more you like it there, the better you play, the less annoying you are, the less things go wrong, I think, in a sense.
“Since I’ve been back I’ve made sure I have a good attitude and enjoy every second and I think that’s contributed to my good game.”