Off and Ruoning

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Top ranked women players were AWOL at Baltusrol but a 20-year-old from China stole the show from a blooming Rose and other pursuers. M. James Ward outlines the broader meaning of this year's KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
Posted on
June 26, 2023
by
M. James Ward in , ,
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Springfield, NJ. Major championships are the ultimate barometer in showing who can play when the stakes are the highest. For just the third time in club history venerable Baltusrol Golf Club, served as host to a major women's championship and the drama produced showed a new dawn is just beginning for women's professional golf.

The second major for 2023 had all eyes on 20-year-old Rose Zhang. After winning in her professional debut just two weeks prior in nearby Jersey City at the Mizuho Americas Open, the former Stanford star finished gamely with a final round score of 67 and a tie for 8th. Zhang's finish could have been higher except for a few late round blemishes including a tee shot finding water at the 72nd hole that drowned her chances.

The shining moment fell upon another 20-year-old -- Ruoning Yin. The Chinese player is not well known to broader golf audiences but her performance at Baltusrol showed a gritty weekend performance that now places her on the fast track to stardom.

Yin was the best tee-to-green player all week -- reaching a remarkable 66 greens in the regulation stroke and 48 of 56 fairways. In the final 36 holes during the elevated pressure-packed weekend rounds she hit all greens in the regulation stroke and had no bogeys in the final round. She capped off matters by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-5 18th to seal a one-shot win over a fast-closing Yuka Saso from Japan.

Yin scored a final round 67 and 276 total.

How impressive was the win?

Consider the following:
• She becomes just the second golfer from the People's Republic of China after Shanshan Feng to win at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and to win a major championship overall.
• The KPMG triumph is Yin's second win this season, becoming the third player to win multiple times this year joining Lilia Vu and Jin Young Ko.
• Yin becomes the 29th different player to make the KPMG Women's PGA Championship her first major overall title and doing so in just her second season on the LPGA Tour.
• Yin is the 15th youngest winner of any major championship in LPGA history.
• Yin turned professional in 2020 and in a short time has demonstrated she is ready to join the growing list of rising stars in women's professional golf.

The final round produced the best scoring all week as the Lower Course was softened by rain which produced a final round delay in play. Baltusrol yielded only 16 rounds under par Thursday, but with the course more receptive and aided by more accessibly placed pin locations on a number of the holes, 35 players broke par in the final round, including a tournament-low rounds of 64 from Carlota Ciganda and Perrine Delacour and a 65 from Anna Nordqvist. Until Sunday -- no round was lower than 66.

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Born and raised in Shanghai, Yin now resides in Orlando, FL and actually rents a house from fellow Chinese player Xiyu Lin who finished in a tie for third and was in contention until a concluding bogey at the closing hole. The first prize check of $1.5 million will certainly help Yin decide if paying rent will continue or simply opt to buy her own place now.

"Oh, wow. Actually, I'm thinking about buy her house right now," she said, causing laughs. "Yeah, just about it."

The return of Baltusrol to the golf spotlight was the first significant event held at the storied New Jersey-based club since the 2016 PGA Championship and marked the first public viewing of the updated Lower Course by star architect Gil Hanse. A third PGA Championship is scheduled for the A.W. Tillinghast layout in 2029.

The missing ingredient during the event was the lack of star power among the top ten ranked players in the world. World ranked number one Jin Young Ko and fifth ranked Minjee Lee were the best performers and had to settle for a tie for 20th. Number two ranked Nelly Korda and fourth-ranked Lilia Vu both missed the 36-hole cut. Lydia Ko, the third ranker player, finished further down the leaderboard with a tie for 57th.

12th-ranked Leona Maguire had the 36-and-54 hole lead and had won the week prior with a series of rounds in the 60s. But the momentum that could have led to her becoming Ireland's first major championship winner on the women's side simply imploded with a flat final round of 74.

Much of the pre-championship hype centered on Rose Zhang. Having won in her debut as a professional two weeks prior at Liberty National Golf Club during the Mizuho Americas Open, the Rose bloom was still present. Zhang battled during the final round and appeared poised to make a final late round charge for the lead.

Unfortunately, a botched tee shot at the closing hole found a penalty area and she was unable to convert a final birdie attempt and finished the round with a 67 score and tie for 8th finish.

Yin's win marks the rising stature of China in women's professional golf and could well open the floodgates for many players of quality to emerge from the world's most populated country.

The KPGA Women's PGA Championship continues to make strides ahead since being run by the PGA of America starting in 2015. Linking the event and playing at such noted courses such as Baltusrol provides a much deeper bond for women's professional golf via a club steeped in rich golf history.

In two weeks, another milestone will happen -- the U.S. Women's Open will be played for the first time at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California.

Women's professional golf is certainly off and Ruoning -- no pun intended.

Pos.PlayerTo ParScoresTotal
1Ruoning Yin-867 - 73 - 69 - 67276
2Yuka Saso-769 - 73 - 69 - 66277
T3Carlota Ciganda-672 - 73 - 69 - 64278
T3Anna Nordqvist-674 - 73 - 66 - 65278
T3Megan Khang-674 - 70 - 67 - 67278
T3Xiyu Lin-667 - 71 - 73 - 67278
T3Stephanie Meadow-673 - 68 - 67 - 70278
T8Ayaka Furue-569 - 75 - 69 - 66279
T8Rose Zhang-570 - 74 - 68 - 67279
T8Jenny Shin-569 - 72 - 66 - 72279
T11Perrine Delacour-471 - 75 - 70 - 64280
T11Nanna Koerstz Madsen-471 - 73 - 69 - 67280
T11Leona Maguire-469 - 68 - 69 - 74280
14Grace Kim-370 - 73 - 69 - 69281
T15Jodi Ewart Shadoff-275 - 70 - 69 - 68282
T15Allisen Corpuz-270 - 71 - 72 - 69282
T15Brooke M. Henderson-267 - 74 - 72 - 69282
T15Sarah Schmelzel-274 - 68 - 70 - 70282
T15Lauren Coughlin-275 - 67 - 68 - 72282
T20Hyo Joo Kim-176 - 70 - 70 - 67283
T20Linn Grant-171 - 71 - 72 - 69283
T20Minjee Lee-172 - 67 - 75 - 69283
T20Jin Young Ko-172 - 69 - 69 - 73283
T24Ariya JutanugarnPar71 - 76 - 71 - 66284
T24In Gee ChunPar74 - 72 - 70 - 68284
T24Marissa SteenPar71 - 74 - 71 - 68284
T24Mel ReidPar71 - 67 - 77 - 69284
T24Gabriela RuffelsPar73 - 71 - 68 - 72284
T24Mina HarigaePar73 - 68 - 70 - 73284
T30Esther Henseleit+169 - 77 - 71 - 68285
T30Angel Yin+173 - 70 - 73 - 69285
T30Cheyenne Knight+173 - 73 - 69 - 70285
T30Narin An+175 - 70 - 69 - 71285
T30Celine Boutier+170 - 71 - 71 - 73285
T30Lee-Anne Pace+166 - 73 - 70 - 76285
T36Haeji Kang+274 - 73 - 71 - 68286
T36Daniela Darquea+271 - 72 - 71 - 72286
T36Amy Yang+273 - 69 - 72 - 72286
T39Pornanong Phatlum+374 - 73 - 74 - 66287
T39Danielle Kang+375 - 71 - 73 - 68287
T39Lindsey Weaver-Wright+375 - 72 - 71 - 69287
T39Yuna Nishimura+374 - 70 - 72 - 71287
T39Madelene Sagstrom+373 - 71 - 72 - 71287
T39Pajaree Anannarukarn+376 - 67 - 73 - 71287
T39Ashleigh Buhai+373 - 73 - 67 - 74287
T39Celine Borge+369 - 69 - 74 - 75287
T47Yu Liu+475 - 72 - 71 - 70288
T47Nasa Hataoka+472 - 73 - 73 - 70288
T47Lexi Thompson+476 - 70 - 71 - 71288
T47Min Lee+474 - 73 - 67 - 74288
T47Jeongeun Lee6+471 - 73 - 69 - 75288
T52Mariah Stackhouse+576 - 71 - 73 - 69289
T52Samantha Wagner+571 - 72 - 75 - 71289
T52Alison Lee+575 - 71 - 71 - 72289
T52Emily Kristine Pedersen+574 - 72 - 69 - 74289
T52Hye-Jin Choi+571 - 73 - 71 - 74289
T57Moriya Jutanugarn+674 - 73 - 73 - 70290
T57Lydia Ko+674 - 73 - 72 - 71290
T57Linnea Strom+672 - 71 - 75 - 72290
T57Gina Kim+672 - 69 - 74 - 75290
T61Gemma Dryburgh+772 - 75 - 73 - 71291
T61Stephanie Kyriacou+775 - 71 - 74 - 71291
T61Maria Fassi+774 - 69 - 77 - 71291
T61Albane Valenzuela+774 - 73 - 72 - 72291
T61Soo Bin Joo+774 - 72 - 71 - 74291
T61Eun-Hee Ji+771 - 73 - 73 - 74291
T61Alexa Pano+770 - 74 - 69 - 78291
T68Hannah Green+875 - 71 - 75 - 71292
T68Lauren Stephenson+875 - 69 - 75 - 73292
T68Jasmine Suwannapura+871 - 72 - 71 - 78292
T71Morgane Metraux+971 - 76 - 78 - 68293
T71Stacy Lewis+972 - 75 - 74 - 72293
T71Elizabeth Szokol+977 - 69 - 74 - 73293
74Annie Park+1071 - 74 - 72 - 77294
75Charlotte Thomas+1372 - 73 - 76 - 76297
76Aditi Ashok+1474 - 71 - 77 - 76298
T77Matilda Castren+1573 - 74 - 78 - 74299
T77Sung Hyun Park+1573 - 74 - 77 - 75299
79Lucy Li+1874 - 72 - 78 - 78302
CUTSarah Kemp+677 - 71
CUTHae Ran Ryu+676 - 72
CUTDani Holmqvist+675 - 73
CUTA Lim Kim+675 - 73
CUTMarina Alex+673 - 75
CUTJing Yan+673 - 75
CUTLilia Vu+672 - 76
CUTAlly Ewing+671 - 77
CUTPaula Reto+671 - 77
CUTWichanee Meechai+668 - 80
CUTMi Hyang Lee+778 - 71
CUTJennifer Chang+777 - 72
CUTBronte Law+776 - 73
CUTAzahara Munoz+775 - 74
CUTPavarisa Yoktuan+775 - 74
CUTDana Fall+774 - 75
CUTCristie Kerr+774 - 75
CUTPernilla Lindberg+774 - 75
CUTMao Saigo+774 - 75
CUTJennifer Kupcho+773 - 76
CUTJennifer Song+773 - 76
CUTJaravee Boonchant+772 - 77
CUTPeiyun Chien+877 - 73
CUTFrida Kinhult+876 - 74
CUTBailey Tardy+875 - 75
CUTPatty Tavatanakit+875 - 75
CUTIn Kyung Kim+873 - 77
CUTSei Young Kim+873 - 77
CUTGeorgia Hall+979 - 72
CUTLauren Hartlage+978 - 73
CUTJoanna Coe (CFPT)+977 - 74
CUTBrianna Do+977 - 74
CUTWei-Ling Hsu+977 - 74
CUTDewi Weber+977 - 74
CUTMaddie Szeryk+975 - 76
CUTAllison Emrey+974 - 77
CUTChristina Kim+974 - 77
CUTGabriella Then+974 - 77
CUTStephanie Connelly Eiswerth (CFPT)+973 - 78
CUTChella Choi+1080 - 72
CUTLoretta Giovannettone (CFPT)+1079 - 73
CUTHaru Nomura+1078 - 74
CUTEmma Talley+1078 - 74
CUTYan Liu+1077 - 75
CUTRyann O'Toole+1077 - 75
CUTAndrea Lee+1076 - 76
CUTMaja Stark+1076 - 76
CUTAtthaya Thitikul+1075 - 77
CUTKaris Davidson+1074 - 78
CUTXiaowen Yin+1074 - 78
CUTMinami Katsu+1179 - 74
CUTAmanda Doherty+1178 - 75
CUTHinako Shibuno+1178 - 75
CUTGaby Lopez+1177 - 76
CUTArpichaya Yubol+1177 - 76
CUTNelly Korda+1176 - 77
CUTBrittany Lincicome+1276 - 78
CUTMariajo Uribe+1276 - 78
CUTLaura Davies+1275 - 79
CUTCharley Hull+1379 - 76
CUTYealimi Noh+1377 - 78
CUTAngela Stanford+1376 - 79
CUTSandra Changkija (CFPT)+1480 - 76
CUTInes Laklalech+1478 - 78
CUTNatthakritta Vongtaveelap+1475 - 81
CUTBrittany Altomare+1580 - 77
CUTYu-Sang Hou+1578 - 79
CUTAlisa Rodriguez+1577 - 80
CUTLizette Salas+1576 - 81
CUTAline Krauter+1678 - 80
CUTSu Oh+1782 - 77
CUTSophia Schubert+1778 - 81
CUTAllie Knight (CFPT)+1978 - 83
CUTEmily Miller (CFPT)+2180 - 83
CUTSamantha Morrell (CFPT)+2482 - 84
CUTAmy Ruengmateekhun (CFPT)+2479 - 87
W/DAustin Ernst78
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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

KPMG Women's PGA Championship 2023

Date: June 22nd - 25th 2023

Location: Baltusrol Golf Club (Lower Course) | Springfield, New Jersey

Purse: $10,000,00

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