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NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – If you look at the numbers, just by the numbers, Aronimink Golf Club doesn’t compare to some of the other beasts the women have faced in major competition.
The course registers on the card at 6,577 yards and a par 70. Well, the players in the field for this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship agree: The numbers lie.
“I think this is definitely the longest. It feels like it. The number might not say it, but because of the temperature, because of the morning times that we’re going to play, and obviously the wind — it’s windy, so it’s just going to play a lot more than what it says on the scorecard.”
Those are the words of three-time Women’s PGA champion Inbee Park. She averages a shade under 239 yards off the tee, so, depending on the wind and where Kerry Haigh and his team set up tees, there will be par 4s that she can’t reach in two.
Haigh, the chief championship officer for the PGA, said he’ll monitor Mother Nature’s daily projections and adjust accordingly
For Park and others who struggle for distance off the tee, it will be a steady diet of hybrids and fairway woods into greens. This event was originally slated for the summer, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in October, the fairways are a little less firm, the conditions softer. That translates to less rollout for those who need it most.
Danielle Kang is also a past winner of this event, doing so at Olympia Fields in 2017. She said on Wednesday that she will possibly remove a wedge from her bag and replace it with a hybrid or fairway wood.
“I don’t know how it’s going to play tomorrow. That’s the beauty of a major. Every day is different, depending on weather conditions. It also depends on course setup, how the LPGA and the PGA of America decide to set the golf course up,” said Kang, who has an afternoon tee time on Thursday and won’t have the face the 52-degree start-up on Day 1.
Brooke Henderson, another past Women’s PGA champ (2016), averages nearly 30 yards more off the tee than Park, eight more than Kang, and even she is hitting less lofted clubs into the greens.
“The course is playing very long. I’ve hit more hybrids in the last few days than I have in a really long time,” Henderson said, “so I think it just kind of depends on the wind, and hopefully they’ll move us up a little bit on some holes just because it is so soft out there.”
“It is a beast,” added recent first-time tour winner Mel Reid. “I’m not one of the short hitters, I’m one of the longer ones, and I was hitting – I think I hit four fairway woods into par-4s today.”
Haigh said tees are always pushed back during practice rounds and the course usually plays a bit shorter during competition.
“I’ve played practice rounds that are this long, that play this long, they just didn’t play it that long when Thursday came around,” said Kang. “If they do play it the way it’s going to be, like this, then it might be one of the longest golf courses that I’ve competed on, on the LPGA tour.”
As for scoring, “I don’t think, [scoring] is going to be very low unless they move a lot of tees up on the tournament days, which I think they might do,” Park said. “I think maybe every day 2 under par is a really good score.”