SAMMAMISH, Wash. — Being able to get off the tee and manage the tight fairways that wind among the imposing Douglas firs, red cedars and hemlock at the Sahalee Country Club was going to be a key at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Heading into Sunday’s final round, with Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls just two shots back of leader Lydia Ko, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, six of the nine players at even par or better are in the top 25 in fairways hit.
Henderson, who said at the beginning of the week she was going to be aggressive and hit her driver, is tied for third in fairways hit, having hit 33 of 42 (78.57%).
Ko is 18th (30/42) after hitting 13 of 14 on Saturday to build a one-shot lead over Brittany Lincicome (29/42, 69.05%) and Gerina Piller, who’s the outlier in the group. Piller is tied for 69th in fairways hit (22/42, 52.38%), but has made up for that by leading the tournament in putts per greens in regulation (1.71) and is tied for fourth in total putts (86).
“It’s a tough golf course. You have to hit it almost perfect off the tee,” said Henderson. “Every hole is pretty narrow and then the approach shots aren’t much easier. The greens are pretty tiny and if you miss the greens it’s usually a difficult up and down.”
That difficulty off the tee means no lead is safe, unless Ko hits another 13 out of 14 fairways tomorrow.
“Especially on this golf course. Two shots can happen on one hole,” said Henderson. “Somebody birdies and a lot of ‘others’ can happen out here, especially down the stretch.”
Some other Henderson stats: Her driver has been her best club this week. On top of being tied for third in fairways hit, she’s tied for third in driving distance at 257 yards. Her new putter has been pretty good, too: she’s T5 in putts per greens hit in regulation at 1.75 and tied for 14th in total putts at 88.
Henderson will try to win her first major starting at 2:55 p.m. EDT on Sunday in the third to last group with Chella Choi and Mirim Lee, both of South Korea.
/ Chris Stevenson @CJ_Stevenson