HARRISON – The vision is on the verge of becoming reality.
Before plans for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship reached the pencil-to-paper stage, the enthusiastic title sponsor went to Stacy Lewis for ideas.
The list wasn’t very long, with only three items highlighted.
“Over the last year or so, they have come to me asking, ‘What makes the U.S. Open great? What makes Arkansas great? What makes any tournament players love, what makes them love it?’ ” said Lewis, who represents KPMG on the LPGA Tour and was joined at Media Day by defending champion Inbee Park. “They were writing everything down, and I can tell you a lot of what I told them is happening out there.”
The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is making its debut June 11-14 at Westchester Country Club.
It’s the brainchild of PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua and LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan, and the centerpiece of a week includes a leadership summit intended to inspire the next generation of women in the corporate world.
The charitable arm of this event will support that mission year-round.
“We talked about the LPGA coming together with the PGA coming together with NBC/Golf Channel and building something that really elevated the best female golfers on the planet to whole new heights – purse heights, television heights, venue heights,” Whan said.
Care was taken in order to protect the history of the former LPGA Championship, and the silver trophy remains in play. There will be 156 of the best touring and teaching professionals competing for the oversized silver prize, along with a share of the $3.5 million purse.
Only the Women’s U.S. Open pays out more.
Golf Channel will broadcast live the first two days with NBC taking over the weekend coverage. And the opportunity to play a famous venue that once was a favorite on the PGA Tour has the players excited.
“I would tell you, having grown up in this area, when you talk about the Met section and the quality of golf courses, you can’t go five miles without bumping into one of the best golf courses in the country,” said Bevacqua, who used to work at Bedford Golf and Tennis. “Westchester Country Club is special. They really wanted the event. They wanted to be a part of this. … I think back to when I was 10, 11, 12 years old coming here and watching the greatest players in the world. I remember shaking Seve Ballesteros’s hand right outside this room. … And then you add that to the fact that we’re 25 minutes from New York City.”
KPMG also gave Canadian teen Brooke Henderson a sponsor’s exemption on Monday, adding even more star power. It will be the 17-year-old’s first major as a professional. Henderson tied for 10th in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur. She is not currently an LPGA member because of its minimum age requirement of 18.