BETHESDA, Md. — A jammed-packed schedule of golf continues on this week in suburban Washington D.C. as another major championship is up for grabs. This week, it’s the KPMG Women’s PGA at famed Congressional Country Club.
We’re already through 18 holes in Bethesda, and there’s plenty to get caught up on. Below are three observations from Day 1 at Congressional.
3 winners from Thursday at the KPMG Women’s PGA
1. In Gee Chun dazzles
In Gee Chun played so well on Thursday that it had her competitors wondering if she was playing a different course than the rest of the field. Despite teeing off during the brutal morning wave that dealt with intermittent showers and cool temps, Chun posted an eight-under 64 to open up a five-shot lead over her nearest competitors.
“I don’t know what golf course she’s playing,” said Hannah Green, who shot a one-under 71 on Thursday. “We were looking at the scores, and we were, like, ‘Oh, wow, okay, five under par. But still tough on the back nine.’ To hear that she’s eight [under], I’m, like, ‘Wow, that’s impressive.’ That’s like shooting 10-under out here.”
Chun racked up an absurd nine(!) birdies over her first 18 holes, and dropped just one shot in the process. Her 64 was 12 shots better than the scoring average during the morning wave, and represents the new course record on Congressional’s Blue Course.
“The course is really hard,” said Jennifer Kupcho, who also shot 71. “I don’t really know how In Gee is eight under right now.”
2. Nelly Korda lurks
Nelly Korda is playing in just her third tournament since a lengthy layoff after surgery to repair a blood clot in her arm, but thus far, she hasn’t missed a beat.
She finished T8 at the U.S. Women’s Open a few weeks ago, and followed it up with a runner-up finish in last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic. Now, defending her title at the Women’s PGA, she’s yet again in the mix.
Korda shot a one-under 71 in her opening round at Congressional and sits seven behind Chun after Thursday. However, with 54 holes remaining in the championship, she knows that anything can happen.
“You still have three more days,” Korda said. “You’re going to continue to stick to your game plan and hopefully shoot some good numbers coming into Sunday.”
Inside the top 10 after 18 holes is not a bad position to be. The defending champion is lurking.
3. Tough conditions
If you’re a fan of brutal conditions, Thursday was a great day for you. Congressional was a beast during Round 1, and, save for In Gee Chun’s historic round, players were flummoxed.
Overnight rains soaked the course, and intermittent showers in the morning did nothing to help matters. Congressional was stretched out to 6,809 yards on Thursday as well, which made things even more difficult.
Just 14 players posted scores under par in Round 1, and only three carded scores in the 60s. Eighteen players shot in the 80s, and the scoring average was 75.36.
Simply put — Congressional was a BEAST.