Two weeks later, In Gee Chun’s first round at the Congressional Country Club still doesn’t seem real.
On a day when the on-court scoring average was north of 75.3, Chun beat that number by more than 11 strokes, carding 64. In the previous decade, no KPMG Women’s PGA Championship player had beat the field average by over 9.52 shots in a single round. Chun nearly improved that by two.
Chun carried a five-shot advantage in the second round, tying Mickey Wright in 1961 for the greatest 18-hole advantage in championship history. Despite a pair of 75s over the weekend, Chun became the fourth player in tournament history to take the lead after all four rounds, and the third South Korean woman to win three or more majors.
After next week’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the LPGA Tour crosses the Atlantic for four consecutive major events in Europe. Among them, two major championships: the Amundi Evian Championship from July 21 in France, and the AIG Women’s Open two weeks later in the historic Muirfield.
Let’s take a look at the key numbers from Congress, then dive into what we can expect as we step on the accelerator deep into the summer schedule.
The numbers behind Chun’s thunderous Thursday get more ridiculous the deeper you dive. She hit every fairway and missed just three greens in regulation time, racking up 6.65 strokes won from tee to green – a full stroke more than any other player on the course that day. She earned an even more ridiculous 6.82 strokes with her approach game, nearly two full strokes more than any other player in any round of the week in Congress.
In total, his shots gained against the court in the first round accounted for a huge percentage of his totals for the week. 68% of his approach wins for the tournament came on Thursday, while 72% of his tee-to-green wins came in the first round.
Chun wasn’t just great with her full swings on day one — she was also scorching on the greens, needing just 25 putts for the day. Chun gained 4.37 strokes from the field on the greens in the first round, the second highest total of any player on the field. Only Agathe Laisne (5.55 strokes won on putting) had more. The brilliance of Chun’s performance through two rounds carrying the water for a tougher weekend is most evident when analyzing his putting numbers: in two rounds, Chun gained 7.06 strokes on field. On the weekend, she had gained -3.02 strokes on the greens.
His brilliant play over two days gave him the cushion needed for the weekend fight against Congress. As his last 75 was the highest final score by a major championship winner since Inbee Park in that same championship nine years previously. Park shot a final 75 at Locust Hill before beating Catriona Matthew in the playoffs. It would be Park’s first of three straight wins at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
DC Numbers You Need to Know
* Minjee Lee led the field in Congress in strokes gained, something she knows well on the LPGA Tour in 2022. For the week, she gained 11.98 strokes with her approach shots, about seven tenths more shots than Lauren Coughlin, who ended up in second place in the statistics. For the season, Lee is averaging 2.68 approach shots won per round, the highest rate of any player on the LPGA Tour. Second best? To Gee Chun.
*Hannah Green led the pack in strokes won in Congress, racking up multiple hits on the court in that stat in each of the first three rounds. Stephanie Meadow and Atthaya Thitikul rounded out the top three in this stat for the championship. Green finished tied for fifth in the final standings, her second top 10 at a major championship in 2022. She finished tied for eighth at the Chevron Championship earlier this season in California.
* The field leader in strokes gained off the tee for the week in Congress was Bianca Pagdanganan, who gained more than five and a half strokes from the field with championship tee shots. Lexi Thompson finished fourth for the week, one of four players to average one or more complete strokes gained per round off the tee over the course of 72 holes. Thompson’s second-place finish was her fourth in the majors since 2015, the best of any player in that span.
In perspective for the Amundi Evian Championship
* At last summer’s Amundi Evian Championship, Minjee Lee’s putter got warmer as the week progressed. After losing 1.37 strokes to the greens on his first inning 68, Lee has gained more than six and a half strokes over the past three days combined. It culminated in a final round 64 where she was seven for eight putting 5-10 feet.
Lee’s shots gaining visibility in her win at Amundi Evian was relatively balanced: she won 35.1% of her shots against the court with her approach game and 30.1% from putts. Compare that to winning the US Women’s Open in June, where her searing putter won 42.2% of her strokes, and approach play accounted for 33.8%.
Lee will undoubtedly be one of the favorites in France, and not just because she is the defending champion. In his last five major championship starts, Lee has finished no worse than 12th, racking up four top-five finishes and a combined score of 52 under.
* Jeongeun Lee6 suffered playoff heartbreak at the hands of Lee last year at the Evian Resort Golf Club, but his resume in the event gives him optimism for a win this year. In three career starts, she finished tied for sixth and second place. Her career average of 68.5 is the best of any player with 10 or more rounds played since the Amundi Evian Championship became a major tournament nine years ago.
*In eight career starts at the Amundi Evian Championship, Lydia Ko has finished outside the top 10 – only twice. Ko is a combined 46 under par at the event since 2013, the highest aggregate score of any player. Ko has been the best putter on the LPGA Tour this season: with 1.45 strokes won per round, she averages more than two-tenths of a stroke more than any other player in 2022. If you like more traditional numbers, she is ranked T4 on the circuit this season in putts per green in regulation.
*Evian Resort Golf Club generally gives the lowest scores of all major women’s golf championships. Since 2013, the average win score at par has been 14 under, the lowest among the five major leagues in this period. The second-lowest in that streak is the Chevron Championship, at 13.6 under par. Since this tournament went major in 2013, there has only been one instance where a single digit under par has won – that was in 2017, when the event was shortened to 54 holes due to weather.