BETHESDA, Md. – In Gee Chun’s big romp at the KPMG Women’s PGA, she got a speed demon when she was forced to take an unplayable on the par-5 16th, resulting in a double-bogey seven. After Chun’s lead expanded to seven on a blistering day outside the capital, she closed with just a three-shot lead after a third round of 75 on Congressional’s Blue Course.
“If it’s too easy, I think it’s boring,” Chun said with that lovely smile.
Lexi Thompson, Sei Young Kim, who won this event in 2020, and Hye-Jin Choi share second place at 5-under 211. Only two players – Jenny Shin (69) and Atthaya Thitikul (68) – broke 70 in one day on which the score average was 73.59. The last group took 5 hours and 45 minutes to play.
“I noticed they put in some tricky pins,” said Hannah Green, the 2019 KPMG champion chasing four. “You can’t be too aggressive with the pins they’ve put down. If you go for it and it doesn’t work the way you want, you can easily make a bogey or a double.”
South Korea’s Gee Chun and her caddy Dean Herden search for her golf ball behind the 16th green during the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on June 25, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Chun, a two-time major champion who led with six after 36 holes, opened with a course record of 64 to take first command at the first ever professional women’s event held at the Congressional. After making it look so easy for the first two rounds, Chun was happy to make par on the last two holes.
“I’m so proud of myself because I’m holding out after I had a double bogey at 16,” Chun said.
Lexi Thompson of the United States signs for fans on the 18th green during the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club on June 25, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Thompson has not won on the LPGA in her last 50 starts and has not won a major title since 2014, although she has come painfully close on several occasions. She has been playing with a renewed perspective since the loss of her grandmother, Mimi, end of May. She also plays inspired.
“She was my No. 1 supporter,” Thompson said. “It gives me the drive to be here and do it for her.”
Thompson will be in the latter group alongside Chun and Choi, a 22-year-old LPGA rookie who finished second as an amateur at the 2017 US Women’s Open. She finished third at the Women’s Open at Pine Needles this year.
Choi features veteran caddy Pete Godfrey, husband of longtime LPGA player Jane Park. Their daughter Grace had seizures last summer that resulted in brain damage. More than $120,000 has been raised on a GoFundMe account because Park left the tour to care for Grace.
The LPGA community can certainly come together as a family at times. This weekend, Chun and Kim, who are neighbors in Irving, Texas, will battle it out for another major title.
Kim was the first to move to the Los Colinas community, where the LPGA used to host the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. Chun bought the house next door to Kim in 2020 and Minjee Lee, winner of the 2022 US Women’s Open, also owns a house there. Together they have five majors between them.
Chun likes to cook for her friends. Kim especially enjoys her macaroni and cheese with tuna. However, Chun says she wants to up her game.
“I like to cook different types of rice with any vegetables or meat,” she said, “but lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to cook better for steak with all the different spices or oils.”
Dinner of champions.