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KPMG Women’s PGA Championship picks 2024: Why I’m not on Team Nelly Korda this week

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June 19, 2024

Sarah Stier

Have you ever felt claustrophobic on a golf course? It’s easy for the walls to feel like they are closing in. Did you see what happened to Rory on Sunday at the U.S. Open?

Wait until you experience Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash. The host venue for this week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship owns the narrowest fairways in major championship golf. The world’s best women have been here before. Sahalee also hosted the 2016 KPMG won in a playoff by Brooke Henderson. The Canadian won with a four-round total of six under par.

The field of 156 is full of talent. Each of the top 25 in the Rolex World Rankings are competing for 2024’s third major championship title. Our tournament favorite is Nelly Korda (+900), but the incredible Korda has missed her last two cuts in a row. It seems as if her “10” at the U.S. Open has derailed what was a historic 2024 campaign. Sahalee will be set up as a par 72 measuring 6,731 yards. Designed in 1969 by Ted Robinson, the course’s primary defense are trees; about 7,500 of them!

There have been a couple of changes to the layout since Henderson grabbed the trophy eight years ago. The most significant: The 18th hole will play as a par 5 after being a tough closing par 4 in 2016. The greens average 6,000 sq/ft in size and are covered in Poa Annua grass. Six holes have water in play and 56 bunkers protect the greens and fairways. I can hear the echoes already as impact rings along these treelined tee boxes.

Watch the below video for our favorite bets and players we're fading for the 2024 Travelers Championship:

At the risk of hyperbole, I’m not sure if another championship venue has tighter landing areas off the tee. As I begin to handicap the tournament, my focus starts with the 2016 final leaderboard. Major champions and straight flushers adorn the top-20 finishers. All of them found a way to reach these fairways. Strokes gained off the tee (SG:OTT) is a flawed stat for this week. It favors length over accuracy. In an effort to determine the LPGA’s best drivers, I combined SG/OTT and fairway accuracy.

This comparison is the primary key to contending. My research revealed Megan Khang (40-1), Haeran Ryu (50-1), Ayaka Furue (18-1) and Brooke Henderson (33-1) were the ones to watch. Each of these ladies are also in the top 20 for strokes gained T2G. My second consideration for building a successful card is knowing who can convert on the greens. This is a major championship and whether the women are putting for birdie or par, I want those who can saves strokes on these putting surfaces. Anna Nordqvist (100-1) is the best putter on tour. A major champion herself, Nordqvist has finished top 16 in the last two KPMGs. Anna’s closest challengers with a flatstick on the top of the odds board are U.S. Open winner Yuka Saso (50-1) and Sei Young Kim (33-1).

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Handicapping the world’s best women every week has taught me various trends that are key to winning. In the course breakdown, I see a path to scoring through this collection of par 5s. No surprise, Nelly Korda and Yuka Saso lead birdie production on the 5s. This gives them a great advantage when the layout presents such a stern test. Did I mention the 18th hole got changed to a par 5 … what better way to close the weekend rounds than with a great scoring opportunity?

The conditions are very dry at Sahalee and the forecast calls for temperatures in the low 80s. Perfect conditions for the KPMG, this tournament reminds me of two events on the 2023 LPGA schedule. The Portland Classic is the first. Tree lined fairways and quirky doglegs define Columbia Edgewater Country Club. A sensational comp course for Sahalee another tough tree lined test last year was Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club. Host venue for the women’s Canadian Open.

Megan Khang won the Canadian title and is a favorite of mine for the KPMG. Khang is ranked first in SG/T2G, eighth in fairways hit and third on approach. The always accurate American Solheim Cup star is a great value grab in the middle of the betting board. Her complement of skills is super for Sahalee. Khang also represents a template for other players to pick like superstar Rose Zhang (33-1).

Rose is ranked fifth T2G, second on approach and fifth is fairway accuracy. Those two (Khang and Zhang) will be on my betting outright card. Who will be on yours? Survey the field yourself and see whose player’s characteristics match this preview and can contend.

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Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor and content partner with Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA Tour. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on SportsGrid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.