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2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Odds & Picks: Can Minjee Lee Fend Off Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko, Others at Congressional?

2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Odds & Picks: Can Minjee Lee Fend Off Nelly Korda, Lydia Ko, Others at Congressional? article feature image
Credit:

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images. Pictured: Minjee Lee.

As the men compete in this week’s Travelers Championship in Connecticut, the women tee off not far down the road at their third major championship.

Things will hit a fever pitch in Bethesda, Md., on Thursday when the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship gets under way at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

The winner of the four-day, 72-hole event will walk away with a $1.35 million prize from the $9 million purse. The total purse has doubled from the $4.5 million awarded at the 2021 championship.

Headlining the field is Minjee Lee, who earned the second major title of her career last month in a convincing, four-shot victory at the U.S. Women’s Open in Southern Pines, N.C. The Australian star, who’s at No. 3 in the latest Rolex Women’s World Golf rankings, won her first major last year at the Amundi Evian Championship.

2nd major victory ✔️
8th career win ✔️
3rd Australian to win the @uswomensopen ✔️
72-hole scoring record (271) ✔️@minjeegolf is your U.S. Women's Open champion!

📸: USGA/Darren Carroll pic.twitter.com/RkEVlOUHwC

— LPGA Media (@LPGAMedia) June 6, 2022

Right behind Lee among the logical contenders is Jin Young Ko, who’s currently atop the latest Rolex rankings. The South Korean standout has won two of the five major titles contested in women’s golf, both coming three years ago at the ANA Inspiration (now called the Chevron Championship) and the Evian Championship. Ko finished in fourth place at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Rounding out the featured list is Nelly Korda, the world’s No. 2-ranked player with seven career wins. Korda missed several events, including the Chevron, after being diagnosed with a blood clot in her arm.

Pictured: Nelly Korda plays a second shot at the 2022 U.S.Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. Photo credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

This will be Korda’s third start since the Drive On Championship back in the first week of February in Fort Myers, Fla., with a T8 effort at the U.S. Women’s Open and runner-up showing at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give last time out. Jennifer Kupcho outlasted Korda and Leona Maguire in a three-way playoff at last week’s tournament.

So, let’s take an in-depth look into this deep field and see where we can find betting value. Obviously, there is a ton of it out there.

Top Contenders

Nelly Korda (+900 at BetMGM)

It has been quite a long haul for Korda, who dealt with that aforementioned health issue/scare that kept her sidelined for almost four months.

However, the seven-time winner hasn’t missed a beat since her return. That  T8 effort at the Pine Needles probably felt more like top 3 performance due to the fact it was her first event back after the long hiatus and the tournament was played in ghastly weather conditions.

After an unforgettable performance last year, @NellyKorda will be defending the @KPMGWomensPGA title this week at Congressional Country Club! 🏆 pic.twitter.com/WheGDf0nbx

— LPGA (@LPGA) June 21, 2022

The tournament’s reigning champion was brilliant at last year’s event, finish at 19-under en route to a three-shot victory. Korda fired a sizzling 9-under 62 in the second round that set the stage for a pair of 4 unders on the weekend.

Korda is part of one of the featured groups, teeing off at 7:33 a.m. ET with former champions Brooke Henderson (2016) and Hall of Famer Inbee Park, who won this major three consecutive times from 2013 to 2015.

You can shop around for the best number for Korda prior to making your bets, but I don’t think we’re going to find anything better than the +900 being offered at BetMGM, Caesars and others at the time of this writing.


STATISTICS (RANK) Nelly Korda Lydia Ko
Scoring Average 69.579 (5th) 69.698 (6th)
Strokes Gained Total/Round 2.410 (2nd) 2.180 (5th)
SG — Tee to Green/Round 1.900 (3rd) 0.670 (T32)
SG — Off the Tee/Round 0.940 (3rd) -0.530 (T143)
SG — Putting/Round 0.520 (36th) 1.500 (1st)

Lydia Ko (+1200 at BetMGM)

You really have to love what Lydia Ko is doing on the golf course after going through such an extended rough patch. After numerous changes in coaches, caddies and equipment sponsors, the world’s No. 4-ranked player is in some of the best form of her entire career.

Ko, who won the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Raton in Florida in her second start this season, finished solo fifth or better in four of her last five outings. Suffice it to say, she’s probably the most in-form player in the world at the moment, but just can’t seem to get over the hump and land her 18th career tour win.

Lydia Ko, masterful from the bunker 💯@KPMGWomensPGA | #LPGALookBack pic.twitter.com/G1cP9GSfVy

— LPGA (@LPGA) June 22, 2022

The reason I like Ko so much is what she does on and around the greens. She ranks No. 1 in Putting Average (28.51) and Strokes Gained: Putting per Round (1.500), plus she’s third overall (1.72) in Putting per Greens in Regulation. You need that skill set at Congressional, so I think she’s a perfect fit for this venue.

Throw in the fact Ko is first in Sand Saves (69.81 percent) and sixth in SG: Approach The Green (1.060), and I like her chances of picking up the victory.

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Minjee Lee (+1400 at BetMGM)

It’s really hard to find any flaws in the latest major champion’s game. She was fantastic navigating the course and weather conditions at Pine Needles on her way to what turned out to be a comfortable victory.

Now, Lee looks to secure her third win in her last five starts — she triumphed at Cognizant Founders Cup on May 12 — and will hope her uncharacteristic final round, 2-over 74 at the Meijer was just an anomaly.

Two-time major champion @minjeegolf said she feels “more confident rather than pressure” as she enters the @KPMGWomensPGA.

This is her eighth appearance in the #KPMGWomensPGA; her career-best finish is T12 in 2016. pic.twitter.com/54I01qzrA4

— LPGA Media (@LPGAMedia) June 21, 2022

Lee, who wound up T18 at the Meijer, leads the tour in an array of statistical categories, including Scoring Average (68.81) and Rounds Under Par (28) this season. She is also No. 1 in Rounds in the 60s (21), but her putting is still an area that needs to improve. Lee ranks a dismal 143rd overall in SG: Putting Per Round at -0.870 during the campaign.

Oddsmakers at BetMGM are offering the best current price on Lee, with other books putting her as low as +1100 in the market. I actually think this is a fair number, but if you feel like taking a risk you could hold out on an even bigger number in live wagering if she starts slow.


STATISTICS (RANK) Minjee Lee Brooke Henderson
Scoring Average 68.806 (1st) 69.538 (3rd)
Strokes Gained Total/Round 2.560 (1st) 2.000 (6th)
SG — Tee to Green/Round 3.420 (1st) 2.050 (2nd)
SG — Off the Tee/Round 0.640 (12th) 0.880 (5th)
SG — Putting/Round -0.870 (143rd) -0.050 (88th)

Brooke Henderson (+1600 at PointsBet)

It has been a while where I’ve had Henderson among my top selections, but her inclusion in this quartet is more than warranted.

The Canadian has been lights out the majority of the season, sans a three-event stretch in April that saw her withdrawal from LOTTE Championship in Hawaii before missing the cut at DIO Implant LA Open and Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America.

Henderson was dealing with some health issues, according to a story in the Toronto Star, but was feeling good enough to play the U.S. Women’s Open and wound up a solid T15 at Pine Needles.


“I’m really looking forward to getting back out there. When you’re not feeling well, trying to compete against the best in the world can be really difficult. Listening to your body and knowing when to take a step back is key for any athlete.” — Henderson, in a May 30 report from the Toronto Star


The standout followed up that effort up with her 11th victory on June 10 at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer. Her T9 performance at the Meijer would have been even better — perhaps even worthy of a win — had she not settled for an even-par 72 in the final round after going 15 under through her opening match 54 holes.

I jumped on these +1600 odds when PointsBet opened wagering and will probably tack on more before the betting window closes. Henderson enjoyed a magical moment at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wa., at the 2016 edition of this tournament.

Don’t be shocked if Henderson is right there come Sunday’s final round.

Our 6 Favorite Player Prop Bets

ODDS BEST BOOK
Nelly Korda (Top 5 | Top 10) +200 | +105 DraftKings | PointsBet
Lexi Thompson (Top 10) +160 PointsBet
Lydia Ko (Top 5) +230 DraftKings
Brooke Henderson (Top 5 | Top 10) +300 | +140 DraftKings
 Sei Young Kim (Top 10) +300 PointsBet
Jessica Korda (Top 5 | Top 10) +550 | +250 PointsBet

Analysis

Korda speaks for herself. There’s no need for an explanation as to why I’ve landed on her for both Top 5 and Top 10 in the tournament.

I was all about Lexi Thompson at the U.S. Women’s Open and felt like we had something going after her solid opening round. However, the American just couldn’t get things to fall with the putter and settled for a few T20 showing. However, Thompson might have less focus than normal at the major, as we learned her ailing grandmother passed ahead of Sunday’s final round.

That said, she rebounded with a T5 effort last week at the Meijer and could be sitting on a huge performance.

And like Thompson, Ko is due for more major success and will be there come Sunday at Congressional.

We obviously love Henderson and how she looks, but we also have our eyes on Sei Young Kim. The 2020 champion wound up T12 a year ago and just one shot out of the top 10. She was winless on tour last season, snapping a six-year run of winning at least once. Maybe she can find her mojo at Congressional.

Rounding out of our plays is Jessica Korda, who’s Nelly’s older sister. The world No. 14 has six career tour wins, but has never won a major. However, she has been playing some good golf, with a solo second at The Chevron and T5 last week at the Meijer. She was T15 at this event last year, so I think the veteran could be primed for a strong showing.

Our 6 FRL Best Bets

ODDS
Nelly Korda +2000 | Caesars
Minjee Lee +3000 | DraftKings
Jessica Korda +4000 | Caesars
Xiyu Lin +4500 | Caesars
Lilia Vu +7500 | Caesars
Anna Nordqvist +8000 | DraftKings

Analysis

The heat and humidity were issues at the U.S. Women’s Open.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the projected forecast for Bethesda, Md. from the National Weather Service looks decent for Thursday’s opening round. However, things are going to heat up as we move through the weekend (see below graphic), with light winds coming in at 10 miles per hour or less at Congressional.

*Graphic courtesy of weather.gov

For those reasons, I’m not finding anyone having any real advantage when it comes to the AM/PM or PM/AM tee times for the first two rounds. I think it’s going to play fairly even, so we’re targeting players in solid form with past success at this major championship.

And she might be +8000, but Anna Nordqvist came flying out of the gates with a 5-under 67 in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Last week, she fired a 7-under 65 at the Meijer, so I think we’re getting a very live FRL longshot in the three-time major champion.

Our 6 Live Longshots

Odds BEST BOOK
Jessica Korda +3000 Caesars
Hannah Green +3500 Caesars
Xiyu Lin +3500 BetMGM
Inbee Park +4000 PointsBet
Jennifer Kupcho +4000 BetMGM
Sei Young Kim +6600 PointsBet

Analysis

We’ve pinpointed six players who are live at long odds, but the one who really sticks out when looking at form and value is Kupcho. I mean, why in the world are we getting +4000 on the American who has two wins this season, including a major triumph at The Chevron back in March.

Kupcho, who’s ranked No. 9 in the world, is sitting third overall in the Race to CME Globe standings behind Nelly Korda and Lydia Ko. She’s also within striking distance of Minjee Lee in the Rolex Player of the Year standings.

Two wins in three months. 👀

Major Champion @jenniferkupcho is not messing around. pic.twitter.com/IgxSy4TVri

— LPGA (@LPGA) June 21, 2022

We also like Jessica Korda and Hannah Green — the 2019 event champion — at these odds, as well as Xiyu Lin (T9 at the KPMG a year ago). All three are due for a win, especially Lin. The Chinese standout is a model of consistency, having not missed a cut in 11 events this season and finishing T17 or better in eight of those events.

Throw in Park and her three at this major and Kim at long +6600 odds, and we like this group of outside contenders.


The Pick

Six years ago, Henderson captured the Women’s PGA Championship at Sahalee, which she said forever changed her life on and off the golf course.

Since that monumental performance, she has been chasing that coveted second major crown and I think this is the spot she secures No. 2 for her trophy cabinet. Henderson is giving us better value than the likes of Nelly Korda and Minjee Lee in the betting market, so I’m making the Canadian my top pick.

With four birdies & an eagle in the final round, @BrookeHenderson's victory at the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship is unforgettable. #KPMGWomensPGA | @ROLEX pic.twitter.com/3DHXN01TtY

— KPMG Women's PGA Championship (@KPMGWomensPGA) June 17, 2022

It wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever if Henderson and Nelly Korda are duking it out in the final pairing on Sunday’s back nine.

As for the longshots I’ve mentioned, I can’t get over the numbers we’re getting on Kupcho and Park. When it comes to the latter, I don’t know if you leave her off your card even if she isn’t at the top of her game (T3-T16-T15-Cut in her last four events) at her current odds.

However, Henderson is due to another shining moment and is my featured selection heading into what should be an exciting event at Congressional.

 

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