After Minjee Lee claimed her second major title at the recent U.S. Women’s Open plenty of attention will fall the way of the West Australian while a renovated major host will be fully unveiled to the golfing world for the first time since a signifcant update.

Following on from an enthralling men’s U.S. Open the interest will be high and the standard expected perhaps even higher. But after a thrilling Jennifer Kupcho win atop an absolutely stacked LPGA leaderboard last week, the Women’s PGA Championship should more than live up to the hype.

And perhaps the reign of the Aussie women will continue with seven starters this week at Congressional.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Last year saw Nelly Korda confirm her status as one of the game’s brightest stars with the first major championship of her burgeoning career. The American saluting at the Atlanta Athletic Club in impressive fashion.

Slightly slow out of the gates with an opening round 70, Korda took the lead on day two with a nine-under-par 63 and eventually won the Championship by three strokes from compatriot Lizette Salas, with whom she started the final day tied for the lead.

RIGHT: Nelly Korda claimed her first major win at this event in 2021 and is returning in form after her hiatus. PHOTO: Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images.

Korda’s final round 68 saw her finish at 19-under to earn a share of the tournament record score to par, with Hyo-joo Kim and Italy’s Giulia Molinaro a further six shots back of Salas showing the dominance of the Solheim Cup pair.

Beating sister Jessica to a major title, Korda took the No.1 spot on the world rankings with her victory that was one of four LPGA Tour wins in 2021 when she was also the Olympic Gold Medallist in Tokyo.

Having missed much of this year following the discovery of a blood clot in her arm, Korda returned to action at he U.S. Women’s Open for a top-10 and was part of a play-off last week when Kupcho triumphed.

COURSE: Although the name will be familiar to many from its five previous majors (four men’s and one senior) the Congressional Country Club and its Blue Course that plays host this week is a whole new beast.

Last welcoming major play when Rory McIlroy saluted at a big event for the first time at the 2011 U.S. Open, the Blue Course underwent a redesign at the hands of Andrew Green that begun in 2019 and was completed last year.

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Gone is the typical U.S. Open diet of narrow fairways bordered by dense rough that made the style of play at Congressional one-dimensional, replaced instead with wider, more contoured fairways, areas of fine fescue and raised, undulating putting surfaces that place a premium on strategy.

“We've got 50 acres of fairway today as opposed to 24 three years ago. We've got a lot of movement in the green, so you really have to pick the right spot in the fairway to attack those hole locations,” Director of Golf Courses & Grounds at Congressional Country Club Pete Wendt told the tournament website.

Aussie Minjee Lee has proven herself and the biggest stage and might have a little extra fire after a disappointing finish last week. PHOTO: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images.

Founded in 1924, and opened by President Calvin Coolidge, Congressional was originally designed by Devereux Emmet, before Robert Trent Jones got his hands on the land, followed by the ‘Open Doctor’ Rees Jones. And although the bones of a very traditional U.S. Open layout remain, the wider fairways and more interesting pin positions will create more opportunities for the players able to navigate their way around rather than simply hit the ball straight from the tee.

Measuring 6,831 yards with the memorable water surrounded green of the now 18th to offer a dramatic finish, this week signals the new Congressional’s time as a regular big event host, with the men’s PGA Championship and Ryder Cup set to visit in the coming years.

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PRIZEMONEY: US$9,000,000

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Our very own Minjee Lee is one of the form golfers on the planet and has show no signs of slowing down anytime soon as she chases more major glory and perhaps event the top spot on the world rankings by year’s end.

Lee, of course, saluted at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles at the start of this month and in her lone start since was T18 last week at Blythefield when her final round of 74 dropped her down the leaderboard.

One of the premier iron players in the game, the World No.3 should find Congressional very much to her liking, and the big stage is where she is shining most this season. A campaign in which she has recorded eight finishes inside the top-20.

The extended break caused by her blood clot and subsequent surgery seems to have not slowed down the progress of defending champion Nelly Korda who once again shapes as a big chance this week.

Tied for eighth and joint runner-up since coming back to competitive golf, Korda appears to find another gear at the big events these days and her play last week suggests she is primed to become the first back-to-back winner since Inbee Park’s hat-trick at this event from 2013-2015.

RIGHT: The 2019 champion, Hannah Green showed some good form and should find a course that suits this week. PHOTO: David Cannon/Getty Images.

Although Minjee is deservingly grabbing most of the Aussie attention, our most recent winner of this event is worth keeping an eye on this week.

After her dominant form at home during the summer, Hannah Green has found herself in the mix regularly on the LPGA and produced some solid golf last week on her way to a share of 12th.

Green boasts power and a creative short game, two assets that typically produce good major championship finishes.

Sharing 28th at the U.S. Women’s Open after a final round 76, the 25-year-old was T8 at the first major of the year (Chevron Championship) and this course will arguably be more to her liking than both majors this year.

Missing out on a play-off by one shot last week, Lydia Ko must be wondering what more she has to do to get another win on the resume.

The Kiwi has been outstanding this year with a worst finish of T25 from 11 starts, a streak that has included six top-10s with a win amongst them.

Ko’s 17 wins on Tour includes two majors, but it feels as though both numbers will be higher by the time 2022 is consigned to the record books.

If you can figure out the form line of Leona Maguire the Irish star would probably like to here from you.

This year has included everything from missed cuts to wins, with mid-field finishes mixed with results like last week’s runner-up.

Finding out which Maguire shows up this week will be part of the interest, and if she is on you would think she is a big chance.

The winner of the first major of the year, Jennifer Kupcho ended some indifferent form with a second Tour title last week.

Kupcho is a tenacious competitor, and although her wins have come on courses that own very little resemblance to this week’s venue, you would be brave to tip against her being in the mix at some stage over the weekend.

72-HOLE RECORD: 266 (Sei Young Kim, 2020)

18-HOLE RECORD: 63 (Johnny Miller,1973; Jack Nicklaus, 1980; Tom Weiskopf, 1980; Vijay Singh, 2003; Justin Thomas, 2017; Tommy Fleetwood, 2018)

PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Hannah Green (2019), Karrie Webb (2001), Jan Stephenson (1982).

AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Minjee Lee, Hannah Green, Su Oh, Sarah Kemp, Steph Kyriacou, Sarah Jane Smith and Katherine Kirk. (Karis Davidson was second alternate at the time of writing).

Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 2am – 5am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 2am – 5am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 3am – 6am)
Round 4: Monday Fox Sports 505 3am – 6am)
*AEST, check local guides