The time has come for players to make last minute tweaks, to get in a final tune-up and to complete any remaining prep work ahead of the season’s second major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
For years, the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield Country Club outside of Grand Rapids, Mich. has been played the week prior to the major championship, making it the final chance for players to get in one last competitive rep before one of the biggest events of the year. And Blythefield challenges players to give it their very best in an effort to gauge where their game stands ahead of the major test that awaits the following week.
In doing so, the annual stop in Michigan has produced some of the most thrilling finishes on the LPGA Tour since its inception in 2014. From its very first year, playoffs have been woven into the history of the tournament.
Mirim Lee won the inaugural edition by beating LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Inbee Park on the second extra hole for her first win on Tour.
The following year, Lexi Thompson came from four strokes back on the final day to capture her fifth career win.
In 2016, the outcome was once more determined in extra holes as Sei Young Kim defeated Carlota Ciganda with a birdie on the first playoff hole.
The next season, Brooke Henderson captured her first of what would become two wins in three years at Blythefield by holding off Michelle Wie West and Lexi Thompson to win by two strokes. In 2019, Henderson won for the second time and made history as the victory marked her ninth career win on the LPGA Tour, making her the winningest Canadian golfer, male or female.
Between Henderson’s wins, So Yeon Ryu won the Meijer LPGA Classic by coming from two strokes back on the final day in 2018.
And over the last two years, extra holes were once more required to determine the outcome, with both editions involving Nelly Korda and Leona Maguire. The two squared off for the first time in 2021, when Korda prevailed for her first of back-to-back wins as she used the victory as a springboard to win the following week at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. One year later, the two again went to a playoff in Michigan but that time Jennifer Kupcho was also involved. It was ultimately Kupcho who prevailed on the second extra hole to win the first of what would be three victories in the 2022 season.
Kupcho is one of four past champions of the Meijer LPGA Classic that return to Grand Rapids this year, as she’s also joined by Henderson, Thompson and Ryu. They headline an impressive field of 144 players who will compete in the ninth edition of the tournament in Michigan for a $2.5 million purse. Major champions Lydia Ko, Minjee Lee and Hyo Joo Kim are also poised to tee it up ahead of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
And while the world’s top-ranked players can use the week to prepare for the next major of the season, two amateurs and one professional were extended special invitations to compete with a chance to gauge how their own games stack up against the best in the world.
Ranked No. 5 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Rachel Kuehn, a member of this year’s victorious NCAA National Championship team, Wake Forest, received one of three sponsor invitations to compete in Michigan. Brooke Biermann, a rising junior at nearby Michigan State University, will make her LPGA Tour debut and pro Paige Crawford received the third invitation as the winner of the women’s division of THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational which was held at Blythefield Country Club on June 7.
Anticipation of the season’s second major waits on the doorstep as the world’s best players make final preparations at the Meijer LPGA Classic. The tournament isn’t just a tune up for players, but for fans, who will get a taste of the major championship drama that awaits with what will no doubt be another thrilling finish in Michigan.