Women golfers ready to add to their history at Hazeltine

CHASKA, Minn. — The LPGA Tour gets its crack at Hazeltine National, the course with a recent history of surprising outcomes.

This is where Rich Beem, a former car-stereo salesman, held off a charge by Tiger Woods in the 2002 PGA Championship. It’s where Y.E. Yang became the only player to come from behind and beat Woods in the final round of a major at the 2009 PGA Championship.

It’s where the Americans actually won a Ryder Cup in 2016.

And where Hollis Stacy beat Nancy Lopez at the 1977 U.S. Women’s Open.

Hazeltine also is an example of how much the second-oldest major in women’s golf has risen in stature since the LPGA Tour and PGA of America became partners to stage what is now the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

“The magnitude of this event has gone up so high, and it’s neck and neck with the USGA and U.S. Open,” said Danielle Kang, who won the Women’s PGA two years ago at Olympia Fields, south of Chicago. “It’s just when you get here and people talk so much about the golf course. ‘Oh, you’re going to play Hazeltine.’ They talk it up so much.”

The field is the strongest of the year for the LPGA, with 99 of the top 100 on the money list. Sung Hyun Park won last year at Kemper Lakes. The PGA of America has set it at 6,741 yards on the card — long by LPGA standards — with plans at least once this week to play the signature 16th hole — with a green that extends into a lake — at 240 yards as a reachable par-4.

“I think it’s actually harder as a drivable par-4 because you’re putting the water into play a bit more on the right side,” Nelly Korda said. “So I think that’s going to be a really cool hole and see how people play that down the stretch on Sunday.”

For the fifth straight year, KPMG staged a women’s leadership summit designed to inspire young women in the corporate world. Among the speakers this year were former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and formre soccer player Mia Hamm.

It sets up as a big week in a big year for the LPGA Tour, with the Solheim Cup scheduled for Scotland in September.

Hazeltine makes it feel bigger.

“The name is obviously a big deal, I think more from a fan perspective and the attention of it that the guys have played here,” Stacy Lewis said. “But it’s a property … you drive here and it feels big, from the clubhouse to the range to the practice areas. It feels like a major championship, and that’s ultimately what we wanted to do.”

Doug Ferguson is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Women-golfers-ready-to-add-to-their-history-at-14021144.php.

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