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KPMG Women's PGA Championship brings buzz of women's golf to Kemper Lakes

 
By Len Ziehm
Updated 6/19/2018 10:06 PM
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  • The KPMG Women's PGA Championship tournament is a collaboration between KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, which makes it "a unique event," says Jackie Endsley, tournament director.

    The KPMG Women's PGA Championship tournament is a collaboration between KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour, which makes it "a unique event," says Jackie Endsley, tournament director.

As far as women's golf is concerned there is only one tournament that can rival the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which is coming to Kemper Lakes in Kildeer from June 26 to July 1.

The U.S. Women's Open is older and -- at least arguably -- bigger but Jackie Endsley, the championship director for the Kemper Lakes tourney, is quick to point out one big difference. It all has to do with sponsorship involvement.

"KPMG has been a wonderful title sponsor," said Endsley. "Their goal is to inspire greatness on and off the course. This Championship now has a future leaders program, a mentorship program and the KPMG Women's Leadership Summit. It serves as a great platform to promote women. All of these efforts have elevated the stature of this Major event in women's golf

The tournament was managed by the LPGA Tour from its first staging in 1955 until 2015 when management shifted to the PGA of America, which has 29,000 worldwide members and also stages -- among other events -- the men's PGA Championship. Now the women's tournament is a collaboration between KPMG, the PGA of America and the LPGA Tour.

"A unique event," is the way Endsley describes it.

It's also huge for host Kemper Lakes, which has a rich tournament history but is about to welcome its biggest event in 29 years. The men's PGA Championship was played there in 1989, 10 years after the facility opened.

The KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which has $3,650,000 on the line in the 72-hole competition, is the third of the five designated major annual championships for the LPGA Tour.

First came the ANA Inspiration in April in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg winning the title. The U.S. Women's Open concluded on June 3 with Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn winning in Birmingham, Ala.

After the KPMG Women's PGA Championship comes the Ricoh Women's British Open from Aug. 2-5 in Lancashire, England, and The Evian Championship from Sept. 13-16 in France. The U.S. Women's Open is the oldest of the five majors, having been first played in 1950, and it has the biggest purse at $5 million.

What is now the KPMG Women's PGA Championship made its debut five years later, followed by the ANA Inspiration in 1983, the Ricoh Women's British Open in 2001 and The Evian Championship in 2013.

Though the KPMG Women's PGA Championship will be played for the 64th time at Kemper Lakes, it has visited the Chicago area only once previously. Last year the tournament was played at Olympia Fields in Chicago's south suburbs. Other than the Masters, a major championship is rarely played in the same area two years in a row. That's what's happening with the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, however.

Hosting such a big event is no small undertaking. Some staffers began setup work at Kemper Lakes immediately after the tournament ended at Olympia Fields last June. Endsley has directed operations out of a trailer in the club parking lot since October.

Chances are the winner at Kemper Lakes will be a big-name player. Former champions include Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez, Jan Stephenson, Pat Bradley, Beth Daniel, Betsy King, Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb and Annika Sorenstam.

That's not always the case, however. Last year Danielle Kang captured her first professional title at Olympia Fields, which proves that a big name doesn't always win this big tournament.

Sponsored by the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. For more information, visit www.kpmgwomenspgachampionship.com.

This article is sponsored by KPMG Women's PGA Championship.