Reflecting the historic import of this major tournament, NBC’s coverage of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester Country Club will include 38 hours of live news and tournament broadcasts next week. As LPGA Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam said at a press conference Tuesday, “It’s very hard to predict winning scores and winners and what’s going to happen, but there is a lot to talk about next week, starting with the golf course and certainly the players.”
Sorenstam, who won the LPGA Championship (a predecessor to the KPMG tournament) three times, will provide play-by-play analysis during the third and fourth rounds on NBC alongside Dan Hicks and Gary Koch.
Judy Rankin, also an LPGA Hall-of-Famer, will be lead analyst for the Golf Channel coverage of the Thursday and Friday rounds. The veteran knows Westchester Country Club’s west course very well and expects an exciting tournament. “I did work many PGA Tour tournaments for ABC Sports there in Westchester,” she said. “I think it’s a terrific test. It should be a very, very good week.” Roger Maltbie, who won the Westchester Classic in 1985, will be reporting throughout the four days of the tournament, as well.
“This is really going to be a premiere event for the LPGA — something we’ve been looking forward to for years,” Sorenstam said. “I look forward to watching the LPGA players come out and play this historic golf course. [It has] fast greens, tight fairways, the rough will probably be as high as they have seen all year, so I’m really looking forward to next week.” Sorenstam highlighted fellow Swede Anna Nordqvist as one player to watch. Nordqvist won the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Atlantic City this past weekend and was winner of the LPGA Championship in 2009.
Rankin pointed to Westchester Country Club’s history as a PGA Tour venue as a big asset to the telecasts. “Westchester is a golf course that has seen a lot of professional golf,” she said. “That a lot of people would know the holes much the way they know the holes at Augusta or much the way they know the holes at Mission Hills out in California… I think that’s great.”
How will the course play? “It’s a little bit different kind of golf course than the women I think have played for some time, being so hilly,” Rankin said. “I think it’s a big strategy course.”
Sorenstam added, “You need to be confident with your driver. It’s going to be hard to play from the rough and from the trees, there’s no doubt about it.”
So how will leading players meet Westchester’s challenges?
“Paula Creamer grew up on a hilly golf course,” Rankin said. “She was a dark horse with a still-healing hand when she won at Oakmont. But the lay of the land is not completely different at Westchester.” Creamer’s first win as a professional was at the 2005 Sybase Classic held at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, another course known for elevation changes and slippery greens.
“Inbee Park really comes to mind because she hits a lot of fairways and she’s known for her short game,” Sorenstam said. “If she just roles in a few putts, she’ll be a hard one to beat. She has so much experience when it comes to majors.”
Sorenstam said that Lydia Ko “has the game and she’s capable of winning majors, there’s no doubt… Yeah, of course, the pressure will build up a little bit as far as being number one for a long time. You won so many tournaments, but not a major, and so it’s always going to be a storyline until she wins.”
“Morgan Pressel,” Sorenstam added, “who has really played well the last month and a half — I think this golf course might suit her very well.”
Rankin wrapped it up by observing, “I just think this rookie class is amazing. There have already been four tournaments won by rookies this season. Sei Young Kim has won twice. Hyo Joo Kim won, but she also won Evian last year. You’ve got an American, Alison Lee, that looks like she just could win any time. Minjee Lee, player from Australia, they are just tremendous players and there are a few more besides those that I mentioned.”
Live tournament play will be covered from 1 to 4 pm Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel and from 3 to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday on NBC. The Golf Channel’s signature programs like Morning Drive will broadcast live from the club beginning Monday, June 8. Kelly Tilghman, Brandel Chamblee, and LPGA major champion Karen Stupples will host Golf Central from Westchester Country Club beginning Wednesday.
Golf Central will also offer news coverage of the inaugural KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, which will be hosted at Westchester Country Club on Wednesday, June 10, and feature keynotes by Condoleezza Rice and Duke Energy President and CEO Lynn Good. The summit will be streamed live from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Golf Live Extra and CNBC.com.