In Gee Chun takes Women’s PGA Championship

LPGA Communications

BETHESDA, MD — In Gee Chun rallied after losing the rest of her once-sizeable lead, overcoming a bogey-filled front nine to win the Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday when Lexi Thompson faltered with her putter.

Chun shot a 3-over 75 for the second consecutive day at Congressional, but that was enough to win her third major title by a stroke over Thompson and Minjee Lee. Chun, after leading by six at the tournament’s midway point, lost a three-shot advantage in the first three holes of the final round. Thompson was two strokes ahead of her after the front nine, but Thompson’s putting problems were just beginning.

The 27-year-old Floridian botched a par putt from a couple feet on No. 14, but a birdie on 15 restored her lead to two. Then she bogeyed the par-5 16th while Chun made birdie, leaving the two players tied with two holes remaining.

Thompson three-putted for bogey on 17, and after an impressive approach from the rough on 18, her birdie putt wasn’t hit firmly enough.

Chun’s approach on the par-4 18th bounced past the hole and just off the back of the green, but she putted to within about 5 feet and sank her par attempt for the win.

Chun, a 27-year-old from South Korea, led by seven strokes after finishing her 8-under 64 in wet conditions Thursday. The lead was down to five at the end of that day — still equaling the largest 18-hole advantage in the history of women’s majors.

She was six strokes ahead at the halfway point and had a three-shot advantage coming into Sunday. She finished at 5-under 283.

Chun won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2015 and added the Evian Championship in France the following year.

Thompson hasn’t won an LPGA Tour event since 2019, and her lone major victory came as a teenager at Mission Hills in the California desert in 2014. She’s certainly had chances. She lost a five-stroke lead during the final round of last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club.

This year she was 10 strokes back after the first round before steadily chasing down Chun. Thompson made birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 on Sunday. Chun bogeyed Nos. 2 and 4 to fall out of the lead.

Thompson missed short birdie putts on the eighth and ninth — foreshadowing her problems later in the round — but Chun’s 40 on the front nine left her two back at the turn. Sei Young Kim, who had made it to 6 under at one point, bogeyed 8, 10, 11 and 12 and wasn’t a factor after that.

When Chun made her first birdie of the day at the par-5 11th, Thompson answered with a birdie of her own to remain two shots ahead at 7 under. When Thompson bogeyed 12, so did Chun.

The 16th hole, where Chun had to take an unplayable lie and made double bogey Saturday, was the turning point in her favor in the final round. Thompson was just short and right of the green in two shots but took four from there to make bogey, while Chun rolled in her birdie putt after a long wait.

Lee, who trailed by six at the start of the day, just missed an eagle putt on 16 that could have tied her for the lead. When Thompson birdied 15 and Lee bogeyed 17, the Australian was three behind.

A terrific approach on the final hole gave Lee a short birdie putt, but after making that for a final-round 70, she still needed Thompson to drop two more strokes.

That actually happened, but Lee’s birdie and two pars on the final three holes were enough to win.

Canadian Notes: Brooke Henderson faltered on Sunday, closing with a 76, to tie for 16th. Maude-Aimee Leblanc was 71st.

Fairways Magazine

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