So Yeon Ryu will make her debut as the Rolex world No. 1 in a late afternoon start in Golf Channel’s window of televised coverage Thursday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
She will get to enjoy watching her caddie, Tom Watson, fitted with the special world No. 1 bib for the first time.
Ryu is scheduled to tee it up at 2:40 p.m. ET at Olympia Fields alongside Suzann Pettersen and Gerina Piller. Golf Channel’s coverage will air from 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday with NBC televising from 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday
Ryu is the only player in the field with a chance at the season Grand Slam after winning the ANA Inspiration in April. It was Ryu’s second major championship victory. She has a game that appears tailored for major success. Ryu has five top-10 finishes in the last six majors. She is cumulatively 49 under par in those majors, which dates back to the start of 2016. Nobody’s better in that span with Ariya Jutanugarn next best at 47 under.
Here are the marquee pairings for the KPMG Women’s PGA (all times ET):
2:40 p.m. Thursday, 9:30 a.m. Friday: So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Gerina Piller
Ryu isn’t just world No. 1. She’s also first on the LPGA money list, first in the Rolex Player of the Year point standings and first in Race to the CME Globe standings. Pettersen is seeking her third major championship title. She won this event in ’07, when it was the McDonald’s LPGA Championship. Piller is seeking to make her first LPGA title of any kind. She recorded top-10
2:50 p.m. Thursday, 9:40 a.m. Friday: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Inbee Park
This trio of major championship winners should attract large galleries. Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at world No. 1 ended three weeks ago, slipped to No. 3 this week. She is winless in 11 months but has seven top-10 finishes this season. Thompson is a favorite this week. Thompson has finished T-2 or better in five of her last seven worldwide starts, a run that includes her victory at the Kingsmill Championship in May. Thompson appeared to be running away with the year’s first major until she was hit with a four-shot penalty on the back nine of the final round and lost to Ryu in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration in April.
9:40 a.m. Thursday, 2:50 p.m. Friday: Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn and Alison Lee
Henderson is the defending champion. She defeated Lydia Ko in a playoff at Sahalee last year. Henderson arrives with a hot hand. She is coming off a victory in her last start at the Meijer Classic. Jutanugarn arrives hot, too. She won the Manulife Classic at month’s start, vaulting her to No. 1, until Ryu seized the top ranking on Sunday. Lee is looking for her first LPGA title and to mount a run to make her second U.S. Solheim Cup team. She’s seeking her first top-10 finish this season.
9:50 a.m. Thursday, 3 p.m. Friday: Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis and Sandra Gal
Wie is on a roll in a big turnaround this season. She has finished T-4 or better in four of her last five starts. She’s looking to add a major to her U.S. Women’s Open title at Pinehurst three years ago. Lewis, coming off a T-4 finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship last weekend, is looking for her third major championship title. Gal is looking to become the first German woman to win a major championship.