BETHESDA, Md. – In the shadow of the nation’s capital, the LPGA’s most haunted American star suffered another heartbreak at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Eight years after Lexi Thompson won her first major, she came just short of her second.
The golf world held its breath for a woman who has experienced more heartbreak on the ropes than anyone in recent memory. Thompson hadn’t won in 50 starts on the LPGA, and her penchant for short missed putts — the kind of jab that looks like a kid next to a hot stove — haunted her all the way.
In Gee Chun opened with a course record of 64 at the KPMG Women’s PGA to storm to a five-shot lead after the first round. At the start of Saturday, she was off the field seven times.
But that near-perfect game started to unravel late Saturday, and Chun slept on — just — a three-stroke lead in the pursuit of her third other major title. Chun joined the LPGA after winning the 2015 US Women’s Open, and went on to achieve the lowest 72-hole score in major championship history at the 2016 Amundi Evian Championship.
Shadows of a runaway victory similar to Rory McIlroy’s at the 2011 US Open covered Congressional until Sunday. Suddenly, there was an all-can-do atmosphere with great champions Thompson, Hannah Green and Sei Young Kim in striking distance, along with super rookies Hye-Jin Choi and Atthaya Thitikul.
Thompson struck quickly and birdied the first hole to narrow the lead to two strokes and it wasn’t long before the American was in command as Chun unraveled with a front-nine 40.
Thompson led by two with nine holes left.
Lexi Thompson plays her shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports)
But the ghosts of short misses who have haunted her at busy times came to visit on the back nine. A two-foot par putt on the 14e hole that never had a chance was the most egregious.
With Minjee Lee breathing on her back and the lead narrowed to one, Thompson threw a statement birdie putt from just off the green on the 15th to bring her lead to two with three left.
A tournament that looked like the end had been written halfway through suddenly had an endless series of dramatic twists and turns.
After a short miss for par on the 17eLee filled her approach on the 18th to put the clubhouse lead at 4 below.
Next, Thompson made a mess of the par-5 16th, dropping four strokes with a series of miscues around the green to bogey and tie with Chun at 5 under.
On the 18th, Thompson gave herself a birdie chance to tie Chun at 5 under, cramming her approach to about 3 yards, but Thompson didn’t hit a solid putt, keeping it short and good. She placed a final round 73 to finish 4 under.
Moments later, Chun had a four-legged friend for par for the championship and she made it to her third different women’s major to win.
Chun shot 75-75 over the weekend and still took the win to break her 0-for-75 winless streak worldwide.
Thompson tied Lee for solo second, one shot back.
Top 20 Money Winners in LPGA History