Congress reintroduces itself as LPGA’s best visit to KMPG Women’s PGA Championship

Bethesda — Capitol Country Club has seen many pro golf and golf legends walk the gently rolling hills, but there is one caveat. They are all men.

This week, it’s women’s turn to make their own history on the blue court in Congress. And those mountains? They look nothing like what golf fans in the Washington area remember.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship kicks off here on Thursday, and the LPGA’s first visit to the Bethesda Club also reintroduces the course to the main course after extensive renovations to every hole from tee to green.

“I think people who love golf, whether they’ve seen it in person at previous championships or seen it on TV, they’re going to see a completely different golf course, it’s really fun and exciting.” PGA President Jim Ritchson told reporters before the game.

“You know Congress. You know the name Congress and some of the tournaments here. You don’t know the new golf course.”

It’s the sixth professional-level Grand Slam of any professional level to be played in Congress, and Andrew Green’s revamp to reopen to members last year is reminiscent of the club’s original 1924 design. That means fewer trees and an incredible openness – almost the entire course can be seen from the back of the club – which Ridgson says should create a stadium-like feel, with a view beyond two or three holes. Cheers can be heard.

“Just walking on the property, this place is amazing,” said U.S. Solheim Cup captain Stacey Lewis, who kicked off at 8:39 a.m. Thursday.

“You have a really good combination hole. Short fours, short threes, long threes, long fours. You have par 5s and they can move some tee so they can reach and hit some very good shots out of it. Good hole. I think we’ll see a lot of changes.”

Canadian Brooke Henderson echoes this sentiment. The 18-year-old was the champion of this championship six years ago, and she and her fellow competitors were blown away by the setup and delighted to make their mark on the track for the first time.

“It’s so grand and everything is flawless, and it feels like a major golf course,” Henderson said. “Having the men play here and having so many great champions crowned here, it’s been really cool for us women to be here this week.”

World No. 3 Li Minjie said taking your time was key this week on the blue course’s sloping fairways and undulating greens. Already a major winner at the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month, she’s been scouring the course to see how the turf plays and areas that are more prone to turnovers.

“My caddie actually told me some holes that even if you play well, you might not get the reward. Patience is the key here,” Lee said.

“We really don’t have a chance. But obviously now that we do, I think maybe it feels more special here and maybe we can make our own history from now on,” Li said.

Defending champion Nelly Korda, a top American in the field, will continue not only her meteoric rise in this race from last year, but also her recent horrific setback earlier this year. strong performance. Korda was forced to miss two months after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his left arm in March.

“Obviously, I made sure I was 100 percent before I came back, even just playing golf,” Korda said. “My health comes first.”

In her return to action, the current world No. 2 tied for 8th at the U.S. Women’s Open and led by three rounds at last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic, but has three play-offs in place. Lost to Jennifer Kupcho.She will tee off Thursday at 7:33 a.m. with Henderson and three-time KMPG Women’s PGA champion Inbee Park

“I gave myself a chance last week,” Korda said. “If you told me I’d be happy when I was lying in the emergency room.”

156 entrants will compete for a massive prize of $1.35 million. That’s part of a total prize pool of $9 million, double last year’s total for the event announced earlier this week. On the 50th anniversary of Title IX’s signing into law, the increase in wallets demonstrates the growth and investment in the women’s game in recent years.

“Several girls have already told me it’s awesome and I knew it was coming. I didn’t know it was going to be this big,” Lewis said.

“We have to continue to build on that and make sure we thank the right people and do the right things to continue raising the bar.”

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