DEFENDING champion Nelly Korda and her rivals will chase a record $9 million purse at this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship after organisers announced a doubling of prize money for the event on Tuesday.
The third women’s major of the year tees off at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland on Thursday with Korda attempting to repeat her 2021 Women’s PGA victory.
A successful title defence could see Korda earn a winner’s cheque of $1.35 million after the hefty boost in prize money annouced by organisers on the eve of the tournament.
PGA of America President Jim Richerson said the decision to double the purse — from $4.5 million to $9 million — was a result of support from sponsors KPMG and a desire to elevate women’s golf.
“We really wanted to make sure we utilized this event to showcase the best women’s players in the game and do that with one of the biggest purses,” Richerson said.
“We’ve seen that commitment play out in this announcement today.”
The bumper purse is part of a broad trend throughout women’s golf, where prize money across the five major championships has risen steadily over the past decade.
With the Women’s PGA increase, prize money for the five majors now stands at $37.3 million, compared to $13.75 million for the same events in 2012.
News of the increased purse rippled around Congressional on Tuesday after players were informed of the move.
“You heard a murmur kind of going around the clubhouse,” US professional Mariah Stackhouse said.
“Hey, ‘Did you see that email, 9 mil’, and everybody is super, super excited.”
This week’s major meanwhile is another opportunity for Korda to leave her recent health scare further in the rear-view mirror.
The 23-year-old only returned recently from a four-month layoff after discovering a blood clot in her left arm.
She narrowly missed out on a victory at last weekend’s Meijer LPGA Classic, losing a three-way playoff against compatriot Jennifer Kupcho and Ireland’s Leona Maguire.
“I gave myself a chance last week,” Korda said Tuesday.
“If you told me that when I was laying in the ER, I would have definitely been very happy with that.”
Korda says she has followed an intensive training regime since returning to fitness after hardly touching a club during her long layoff.
“That was the longest time I think I’ve ever gone without hitting a golf ball,” Korda said.
“Since I started hitting, it’s just been kind of full throttle, and I have been practicing pretty much.
“I have not taken more than two or three days off since then. I’m just happy to be out here playing competitive golf.”
Korda will play in a group alongside Canada’s Brooke Henderson, a winner of the Women’s PGA in 2016 when it was held at Sahalee Country Club, east of Seattle.
Henderson has an excellent record in the Women’s PGA, posting five top-10 finishes in her seven appearances in the major.
“Just the excitement of being back and playing in this amazing championship on incredible golf courses and having the bar raised for women’s golf by this championship is really cool for me,” Henderson said on Tuesday.
“I think I’ve just fed off a lot of great memories and hopefully I can do the same this week.” — AFP