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Can Minjee Lee take another step at the KPMG Women's PGA

A career major or more is likely but will it be this week? (Photo: Bruce Young)
Women’s golf’s third major championship of 2018 takes place this week when the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is played at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer in the north west of Chicago in Illinois.

The venue is being used for the first occasion for this event although it did play host to the PGA Championship of 1989 won by Payne Stewart and for other significant events such as the US Women’s Amateur in 1992.

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, first played in 1955, has been hosted by a new course each year since leaving some of its long-term venues in 2013 although Kemper Lakes has been regularly included in America’s top 100 layouts in the past and is expected to be a solid test for an event of this magnitude.

The involvement of KPMG in 2015 took the winning purse beyond US$500,000 for the first occasion and this week there has been a further increase to close to US$550,000 as a first prize and US$3,650,000 overall.

Australian success in the event has been limited to just two winners, Karrie Webb in 2001 and Jan Stephenson in 1982 but in 2018 another eight Australians get their chance to add to that list.

Minjee Lee is the standout in terms of current form to lead the Australians having finished inside the top ten on seven occasions this season and just last week was 3rd at the NW Arkansas Championship. Just four starts ago the West Australian won her 4th LPGA Tour title so she appears well placed for a potential major championship breakthrough.

The 22 year old has just two top tens in 17 major championship starts as a professional so to win would be a huge step but the manner in which she is playing in 2018 suggests that step is not beyond her.

Lee’s fellow Australian and fellow Espirito Santo winning team member Su Oh was playing her way into some very good form prior to a missed cut last week in Arkansas and while winning an event of this magnitude might yet be beyond her she has shown in recent months that she is more then capable of contending at various stages.

Sarah Jane Smith surprised many with her stellar effort at the US Women’s Open a few weeks ago when contending for much of the week before finishing 5th. Her game and performances have come along in leaps and bounds over the last eighteen months and while this is likely a bridge too far her effort to finish as high as she did at the US Open gives her greater hope for yet another good week.

Karrie Webb is not playing often enough or indeed well enough to win her 8th major title but she is arguably Australia’s greatest ever player of either gender and deserves respect for that alone.

Katherine Kirk, Hannah Green, Rebecca Artis and Wendy Doolan make up the Australian contingent in the field, Doolan, a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour and a fine amateur before turning to the paid ranks, securing a start in the event courtesy of her role as a teaching professional in the US.



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