U.S. players embrace golf going global ahead of Women’s PGA Championship

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When it comes to historical supremacy at the highest level of women’s professional golf, no country has prospered as much as the United States. Of the 13 players with at least half a dozen major titles, for example, 10 are American.

The top three of all time were born in the United States, including Patty Berg at 15 and Mickey Wright at 13. Louise Suggs has 11, one more than the first non-American on the list, Annika Sorenstam.

Yet at the two most recent major women’s tournaments – the US Open this month and the Chevron Championship which ended in April – players from outside the United States have dominated the top of the leaderboard.

The World Golf Rankings also reflect the sport’s international reach, with 10 countries other than the United States represented in the top 25, although three Americans reside in the top 10, led by No. 2 Nelly Korda and No. 6 Lexi Thompson.

All of this catches the eye of Stacy Lewis on the eve of the Women’s PGA Championship at the Congressional Country Club. The state of the USA women’s game matters more to her than most these days given that the two-time major winner also happens to be captain of Team USA at next year’s Solheim Cup.

” The way that the [LPGA] The circuit is, I don’t see any country dominating,” said Lewis, 37, one of only two Americans to win a second major championship in the past decade. “You see it in our leaderboards and our global leaderboards. The Americans themselves, we are going in a big direction.

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Much of Lewis’ optimism stems from youthful reinforcements. Korda is 23 and has won the LPGA Tour seven times, including her first major at the Women’s PGA Championship last year at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

She is also the betting favourite, along with world No. 1 Jin Young Ko of South Korea, to win this week’s PGA Women’s, which is contested for the first time in the legendary Congress on the renovated blue course.

Thompson, 27, has 11 LPGA Tour wins highlighted by the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, since renamed the Chevron Championship, for his only major title. She’s contested a handful of others, including a tie for second at the 2019 US Women’s Open and third in solo at the 2015 Women’s PGA.

Booming world No. 9 Jennifer Kupcho, 25, has picked up two wins this season, the first at Chevron and the last last weekend at the Meijer LPGA Classic, beating Korda and Ireland’s Leona Maguire in a playoff at three.

“American golf is in a good position,” Lewis said. “It’s just different faces that everyone is used to, and it’s just the natural progression of this one. There will always be changes. The new guard coming in is really good. I have new names for people to learn.

The only other American, however, ranked among the top 68 in the world and with a major championship is No. 13 Danielle Kang, 29, who won the 2017 Women’s PGA at Olympia Fields outside of Chicago. The second highest ranked American player with a major is Lewis (#69).

Lewis, the youngest American captain in Solheim Cup history, is also the last American to win Player of the Year, in 2014. The closest American player since is Korda with runners-up l last year and in 2019. Kang finished third in 2020 and Thompson the same in 2018.

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American Kathy Whitworth (six majors) won Women’s Player of the Year seven times from 1966 to 1973. California-born Nancy Lopez (three majors) won the award four times in 11 years.

“I wouldn’t say it’s something that really crosses my mind when I play individually,” Kupcho said of the restoration of American preeminence. “It’s more like a team, but obviously it’s always an honor to be there representing the United States. There are a lot of great players from all over the world.”

The sentiment among some of the most prominent Americans on the LPGA Tour echoes that of Kupcho, ranked second in the 2022 Player of the Year race and five points behind first-place Thompson in the US points standings. Solheim Cup.

Korda, for his part, was one of the most outspoken defenders of international players, influenced from an early age, along with his older sister Jessica (World No. 14), growing up with parents who were ex-professionals. tennis.

“I have the impression that here, we don’t really look at countries and flags,” said Nelly Korda. “We are all like a family here. You have 144, 156 girls every week, and we’re all playing for something. We all play for a title. Every year the girls get better. It’s harder to win.

“With all the technology coming out, people are getting better. It’s great to see the diversity on the leader board. This is what our tour has always been about. But I see American golf hopefully moving in the right direction. You hope, as well, to inspire the next generation. It doesn’t matter where you come from.”

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