With a new tournament on the calendar and the second consecutive week in Ohio, the LPGA Tour’s finest take on Kenwood Country Club just north of downtown Cincinnati. Here are five things to know heading into this inaugural event.
1963 US Women’s Open was held at Kenwood Country Club
The one and only time the Queen City played host to a women’s national championship, John F. Kennedy was president, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, Jack Nicklaus won his first major championship, and 23-year-old Mary Mills captured her only U.S. Women's Open title by three shots over Louise Suggs and Sandra Haynie. It was the first of nine victories on the LPGA Tour for Mills and the first of her three major titles. Retired tennis pro Althea Gibson, age 35, became the first African American to play in a U.S. Women's Open that year. She shot 78 and 82 for 160 (+14) and missed the cut by a stroke.
Not The Only Major: LPGA Championship Held In Cincinnati for 11 Years
The U.S. Women’s Open wasn’t the only major in the area. Thanks in no small part to Cincinnati attorney Charlie Mechem, who would go on to become a beloved commissioner of the LPGA, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was held at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Center at nearby Kings Island from 1978 through 1989. The first one was won by Nancy Lopez, the first of three KPMG Women’s PGA Championships she won on the course. In 1984, Patty Sheehan won the championship by 10 strokes over Pat Bradley and Beth Daniel. Lopez won her second major in the city in 1985. Jane Geddes won in 1987. The 1989 LPGA Championship was Nancy Lopez’ third major title, all won in the Cincinnati area.
Championship Golf Returns the Same Year As the Bengals
Locals view it as no coincidence that the LPGA Tour’s return after 33 years coincides with the local NFL team, the Cincinnati Bengals, making it to the Super Bowl earlier this year. The Bengals’ last appearance in the Big Game also came 33 years ago.
Junior Qualifier Gianna Clemente Continues to Shine
For the third consecutive event, 14-year-old Gianna Clemente has played her way into the field of an LPGA Tour event through Monday qualifying. Known colloquially as “two-spotting,” two slots are held open for players to earn their way into each field through an 18-hole week-of qualifier.
A total of 22 players attempted to qualify at Kenwood Country Club on a rainy Monday. Only two broke 70. Clemente won the event at 7-under par. The other spot went to Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras at 4-under par.
Clemente is the youngest player ever to Monday qualify for three consecutive LPGA Tour events. Only one other person has successfully Monday qualified for three consecutive events on Tour: Hee-Won Han in 2001, at the LPGA Takefuji Classic, Cup Noodles Hawaiian Ladies Open and Welch's-Circle K Championship.
One Step Closer to Player of the Year
Two-time 2022 winner and recipient of the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award Minjee Lee is in the field hoping to inch closer to securing Rolex LPGA Player of the Year honors. Lee currently holds a 20-point lead over Brooke Henderson in the Player of the Year race. Lee also has a 152-point lead in the Race to the CME Globe, and currently is No.1 in scoring average at 69.196 with only nine events remaining in the 2022 season.