If you came here for Bryson content, you’ll have to wait. The Women’s PGA Championship is shaping up to be one of the best tournaments of the year.
A real pleasure
An incredible golf event is brewing outside of Philadelphia. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship got off to a rousing start on Thursday, with the best female players in the world battling Donald Ross’s Aronimink Golf Club. Temperatures hovered around 60 degrees and the wind whipped, making for firm and lively playing conditions. Kelly Tan and Brittany Lincicome lead the way after opening rounds of 67 (-3). Leaderboard
Two years ago, the guys on the PGA Tour dismantled Aronimink at the BMW Championship. Rains made the course soft and slow, and the power of the longest players rendered the fairway bunkers, many of which Hanse Golf Course Design had moved back in 2016, irrelevant.
Yesterday at the Women’s PGA Championship was anything but a dismantling. Great shots were rewarded, poor shots punished, and design features very much in play. Just look at Brooke Henderson’s tee shot on the 15th hole, a bunt driver that rolled out nearly 90 yards, or Anne van Dam’s pitch into the 11th green, which used a backboard slope to feed the ball to the hole.
Last month, Andy Johnson wrote a piece for our website asserting that the modern women’s game is more entertaining and less one-dimensional than the modern men’s game. Round 1 of the Women’s PGA offered plenty of support for that argument. It was a fantastic viewing experience, and we implore all golf fans to carve out time this weekend to watch great players face off against a great course.
In case you missed it, check out our new video on Aronimink, featuring drone footage from Andy and commentary from Gil Hanse.
Other notes on the Women’s PGA Championship
2018 Women’s PGA champion Danielle Kang put on a stripe show on Thursday but didn’t go as low as she should have; her 68 could have easily been a 65. Still, she’s T-3. Expect Kang to be in contention this weekend.
Seeking her first career LPGA Tour victory, 23-year-old Swede Linnea Ström opened with 68 on Thursday. Danielle Kang won her first LPGA title at the KPMG Women’s PGA; maybe Ström will do the same this weekend.
It’s been a while since Lydia Ko won a major. After bagging two before her 19th birthday, Ko has gone more than four years without adding a third. But she has been rounding into form lately, finishing solo sixth at last month’s ANA. Ko has herself in position again this weekend after a first-round 68.
Something completely different
While the best female golfers in the world put on a show at a world-class course, Bryson DeChambeau played a completely different version of the same sport in Las Vegas. After reportedly shooting 59 in the Wednesday pro-am, DeChambeau bludgeoned TPC Summerlin to the tune of a bogey-free 62 on Thursday. He’ll take a one-shot lead into the second round at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Leaderboard
There was plenty of the now-familiar hoopla surrounding Bryson this week. In his first event since his victory at Winged Foot, he attracted attention in a variety of ways: saying he will put a 48-inch driver in play at the Masters, setting up at the back of the range to avoid damaging cars in the parking lot beyond, and touting his rewatch of Happy Gilmore as a source of inspiration.
But Bryson brought more than grist for the content mill to TPC Summerlin on Thursday. He drove two par 4s, had five putts for eagle, and didn’t hit anything longer than a 9-iron into a par 3 or 4. (Though he did have to hit 6-iron into a 606-yard par 5, the poor thing.)
The contrast between the styles of golf on display in Las Vegas and Philadelphia this week could not be clearer. Whereas Bryson is using brute force to overpower a golf course, the LPGA players are navigating Aronimink with positioning, varied shot types, and the ground game. Not that Bryson is doing anything wrong. He’s kicking everyone’s butt! We just don’t find it all that fun to watch. To each their own, but we’ll be tuning into a lot more of the Women’s PGA this weekend.
It’s a compact and star-studded leaderboard at the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour. Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Harding, and Adri Arnaus hold the lead at Wentworth Golf Club. Eddie Pepperell, Shane Lowry, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Rose, and Aaron Rai are all inside the top 10. Race to Dubai hopeful Patrick Reed opened with a 2-under 70. Leaderboard
Harry Hall and Shad Tuten sit atop the Orange County National Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. Both players notched 62s on Thursday. Leaderboard
Bryson wasn’t the only player to post a low number at the Shriners on Thursday. More than two dozen players shot 66 or better in the first round. Among them were Patrick Cantlay (63), Harold Varner III (63), Austin Cook (63), Brian Harman (65), and Louis Oosthuizen (65). Live under par!
Brooks Koepka announced that he will play next week at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. It will be his first event since withdrawing from the Northern Trust in August.
The Latest from the Fried Egg
Shotgun Start: A chat with The Ringer’s Kevin Clark, Bryson Gilmore, and Chicken Nugget Country Club
Ringer staff writer Kevin Clark joins for a wide-ranging and amusing discussion on golf, the NFL, and the prospects for two specific teams in the Great Lakes region in this Friday episode. But first, Andy and Brendan check in on some early news and action from the golf world, notably Bryson going deep in Las Vegas and the best of the women’s game already showing at Aronimink. They discuss Bryson’s stated plan to debut his new 48-inch driver at the Masters, how he says it looks like “a missile coming off the face,” and how he’s drawing inspiration from watching Happy Gilmore. They also giggle at the college event at the Tyson chicken tycoon’s course and how that tycoon allegedly made it hard to join and hard to play. In news, they hit on the Women’s PGA sending the leaders out on Sunday in the middle of the tee sheet. And then they wrap with the absurdity that is Pat Reed threatening to really win the Race to Dubai on a Tour that he barely plays. For the second half of the episode, Kevin joins to talk about how he got into golf later in his life but has turned into an avid watcher, gambler, and improving player, thanks to an assist from Shane Lowry. On the NFL side, he relays some amusing tales from reporting in the league, if there’s any football or other sports comp to what Bryson’s done the past year, and if technology has changed football in any way like it has golf. Also, is J.J. Watt now the Pat Reed of the NFL? Then they narrow the focus to their own teams, peppering him with questions about Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy’s basement wall, Baker, Freddie Kitchens, and whether the Browns or Bears have a better chance to make the playoffs. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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