7 reasons to watch the 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

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What: 2015 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Where: Westchester Country Club – Rye, New York
When: June 11 – 14, 2015
Purse: $3.5 million
TV Coverage: June 11th 1-4 p.m. ET Golf Channel; June 12th 1-4 p.m. ET Golf Channel; June 13th 3-6 p.m. ET NBC; June 14th 3-6 p.m. ET NBC

2015 marks the 60th playing of the Women’s PGA Championship, making it the second longest running tournament in the history of the LPGA. It’s also the second major championship of the season – Brittany Lincicome won the ANA Inspiration back in April.

KPMG is on board as the title sponsor of the championship for the first time in tournament history. From 2010-2014, Wegmans was the official title sponsor, and prior to them McDonalds was attached to the event.

Here’s 7 reasons why you shouldn’t miss a single second of the action this week at Westchester Country Club.

1. Inbee Park’s March Towards History

Inbee Park, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, has won the last two Women’s PGA Championships. A win this week would give her three in a row. Since 1955, only Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam has ever won three consecutive Women’s PGA Championships (2003-2005).

Park has already won two times on tour this season, and is a major threat to make history this week.

2. The Deepest Field on Tour All Season

Ninety-nine of the top 100 on the LPGA Official Money List make up the 156-player field; including 23 major champions, 24 LPGA rookies, 29 countries represented and eight PGA/LPGA Club Professional.

Past champions (minus Park) include: Laura Davies (1994, ’96); Se Ri Pak (1998, ’02, ’06); Juli Inkster (1999, 2000); Karrie Webb (2001); Suzann Pettersen (2007); Yani Tseng (2008, ’11); Anna Nordqvist (2009); Cristie Kerr (2010); and Shanshan Feng (2012).

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3. Major Pairings to Watch

Three time winner Se Ri Pak plays with world No. 4 Hyo-Joo Kim and Brittany Lang off the No. 1 tee at 7:50 a.m. Thursday.

Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and Suzann Pettersen own a combined 33 LPGA Tour victories, including 7 major championships. They begin play Thursday at 8:30 a.m. from the 1st tee.

World Golf Hall of Famer Karrie Webb of Australia is joined by Paula Creamer and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist off the No. 10 at 1:00 p.m.

Juli Inkster, Laura Davies and Yani Tseng own a combined 16 major championships, each with two KPMG Women’s PGA Championships. They begin play Thursday at 1:20 p.m. from the 10th tee.

4. Lydia Ko Sets Sights on First Major

Ko has become the world’s top-ranked golfer at just 18 years of age, and although she has seven career LPGA Tour titles to her name, a major championship isn’t one of them.

That could all change this week. The New Zealand phenom has been knocking on the door – she finished 3rd in this event last year and 2nd at the 2013 Evian Championship when she was just 16.

Ko hasn’t played her best golf in her last two tournaments, but that could change on a dime this week. Ko tees off Thursday at 8:40 a.m.

5.The Tournament Gets a Major Facelift

Many of the players this week are pumped about the elevated status of the championship, thanks to a significant makeover courtesy of the PGA of America. Starting with playing the highly regarded West Course at Westchester Country Club, players are sensing a major shift.

“You can’t hope to be on a better golf course than this,” said Cristie Kerr, who lives part of the year in New York City. “I’m not just saying that because it’s a little bit of a home game. I’m saying that because it is such a scenic, beautiful, tough-as-nails golf course that we deserve as a tour to be on. We are great players and it’s great to be on a venue that has this much history to it.”

I would definitely say there’s a different energy this week at Westchester Country Club,” Lexi Thompson said. “Obviously, it felt like a major in Rochester, but this year it really, really does. It feels like a U.S. Women’s Open and it feels like a major championship.

Bill Fields of espnW wrote a terrific story this week on the transformation of the Women’s PGA Championship: “How the LPGA Ended up with a Major with PGA in its Name.”

6. Michelle Wie Attempts to Return from Injury

One of the most popular stars on the LPGA Tour, Michelle Wie hopes her recent run of injuries is a thing of the past when she tees off on Thursday.

Wie’s current issue is a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from the Kingsmill Championship last month and has limited her to one start since. In 12 starts on the tour this season, Wie’s best finish is an 11th at the Lotte Championship. She has missed just two cuts, but she has been outside of the top 30 in five starts.

“Unfortunately health has been a slight issue with injuries and what not late last year and early this year,” Wie said Tuesday. “But like I said, the season is still very long and I think I’m doing the right things to get back to being fully healthy. So I’m just trying to be patient and listen to my body.”

7. Powerhouse Leadership Summit/Bigger Purse Money

With the muscle of the PGA of America behind it, the scope of the newly rebranded Women’s PGA Championship is bigger than ever (see reason 5, above). One key to the transformation is the powerhouse leadership summit designed to “inspire the next generation of women leaders.” Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is the featured guest in a “fireside chat” at the conclusion of the summit.

“It’s going to be unlike any tournament we’ve ever had,” said world No. 3 Stacy Lewis. “I think this week is going to set the bar so much higher for our tournaments going forward.”

“It’s still an LPGA tournament,” said Michelle Wie. “It’s our major. It’s just kind of bigger and better. It’s not a new tournament, but it definitely has a new vibe to it.”

The purse has jumped from $2.25 million a year ago to $3.5 million this year. It’s second only to the U.S. Women’s Open purse.

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Your Take

Are you pumped up for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship? Whether you are or aren’t, we want to hear your reasons why either way. Also, be sure to give us your prediction on who you think takes home the hardware.

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