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Minjee Lee stands out amongst Aussies at KPMG Women's PGA

Minjee Lee stands out as a possible winner amongst the Australasians (Photo: Ladies European Tour)
The third major of five for women’s golf in 2019, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, will be played this week at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska in Minnesota, the first time the event has been held at the Robert Trent Jones (Rees Jones redesigned) layout southwest of Minneapolis.

Not that the venue is new to women’s professional golf having staged the US Women’s Open on two occasions the last of which was played in 1977.

It has also played host to two US Open Championships, a PGA Championship and a Ryder Cup so whiles new to this event it has a history steeped in major championship golf.

In 2019 the event will see seven Australians and one New Zealander taking to the fairways of Hazeltine Golf Club headed by the current world number three, Minjee Lee, who is joined by Karrie Webb, Katherine Kirk, Su Oh, Hannah Green, Sarah Kemp and New Zealander Lydia Ko.

Lee would appear to have the best chance of all of the Australasians given the great form she has shown in 2019 and her current ranking. Lee has yet to break through for that first major but a demanding golf course such as Hazeltine might just offer the opportunity for her to do so.

Lee’s major record pales in comparison to that she has assembled in regular LPGA Tour events, recording just three top tens in 26 starts at the elite level but she has been a winner and twice runner-up in 2019 and despite failing to contend in recent events her performances have not been all that bad and she must be a real consideration to not only lead the Australians but to potentially win her first major title.

Karrie Webb is not the player she was when winning this event in 2001 and finishing inside the top ten on so many other occasions but she deserves her place in this field given her great record in the game generally.

Webb’s 7 major titles arguably make her Australia’s greatest ever performers and while not expected to contend in the event this week her presence is a welcome one.

Su Oh has thrown out signals in the past two weeks that she is returning to her best with her first made cut in seven starts two weeks ago and a near miss last week in Michigan when finishing just behind the winner, Brooke Henderson. This is, admittedly, another level but at her best, which she appears to be approaching, she could at least contend.

Katherine Kirk has yet to record a top ten in 14 starts in this event and just three overall in 57 starts in major championship golf and given her recent form that record hardly appears like improving this week.

Hannah Green is slowly building her career on the LPGA Tour and now into her second season at this level she is building experience and confidence. She is a player good enough to contend in major championships in the years ahead but this week is likely a little too soon.

Sarah Kemp is back on the LPGA Tour courtesy of two very good finishes in Australia earlier this year and gets her chance to play yet another major championship. Her most recent form suggests she will struggle to make the weekend but being back on the LPGA Tour and getting to chance to play in such an event is an achievement in itself.

Wendy Doolan, a former LPGA Tour player and winner of events such as the Evian Masters earlier in her career is now a teaching professional in the US and gets her starts through the spots in the field made available to those who teach for a living but who have played their way into the field.

Doolan retired from regular tournament golf in 2012 but as a three time LPGA Tour winner the 51-year-old has been a significant performer for Australia in women's golf. 

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko is not the player she was two years ago with just two top tens in 11 starts this season and while she has two major titles to her name in her still young career it is hard to see her contending for the title this week.

She showed last week that things might be about to improve but it will need to if she is to be any sort of factor in Minneapolis.

Minjee Lee, therefore, is the Australasian to do best this week and she is well placed to do significantly better than just leading those from her part of the world.

 

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