Lexi Thompson hoping for Major bounce back: Preview of the KPMG Championship

The LPGA heads to Atlanta Athletic Club for the third Major Championship of the season.

Best bet

Brooke Henderson to win at 25/1

Inbee Park top 10 at 6/4

Min Lee each way at 125/1

Three weeks ago Lexi Thompson looked set end her seven year Major Championship drought at the US Women's Open.

It would have been the perfect setting - the tournament she first played as a 12-year-old, the one she made the cut in at 14, and finished in the top 10 when she was still 15.

The 26-year-old was, remarkably, playing the championship for a 15th time and after eight holes of the final round she led the field by five strokes.

Then golf played its nasty tricks on her.

Her swing and mental clarity, the two qualities that had enabled her to cruise through Saturday in 66 blows and build her advantage across the front nine, suddenly vanished.

Golfers commonly suffer from anxiety dreams in which putts refuse to drop or back swings cannot be completed, Thompson was living a frenzied dream in which approach shots kept on dropping short of the green.

In the end her final round 75 didn't even earn her a place in the playoff.

Why do we love a game that is so insidious? It's a riddle and one Thompson is back tussling with at this week's KPMG Championship.

In many ways, however, her Major chance has passed her by this season because she has an astounding record in the first two of the year (the ANA Inspiration and the US Open), but has traditionally struggled with this week's tournament and the two European events that follow later in the summer.

The good news is that she wouldn't be the first golfer to fluff the golden opportunity and then grab an unexpected one.

She's 22/1 with PlanetSportBet this week, but let's take a look at three other candidates for success this week.

The big hitter - Brooke Henderson

Last week's winner Nelly Korda said of her first look at the Highlands Course at Atlanta Athletic Club: "It's really soft and really wet out there. If it stays that way, it's going to be an advantage to the longer hitters, which I obviously like.

"It's nice to hit driver pretty much off every tee. Length plays a huge part. So making sure you're hitting your long irons good. I had a lot of 6-irons into a lot of greens."

Clearly, she sees the positives, but she's also struggled to translate her regular form on the Major stage and she has also asked in the past "how do players win back to back?" explaining that the emotional energy drain of a win is tough to deal with. She also referenced playing nine days of golf in a row on Tuesday.

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If length does prove crucial, however, there are four players who ranks top 10 in this week's field for both Driving Distance and Greens in Regulation (i.e. they hit it long and they make the most of it). They are Korda herself, Thompson, Janie Jackson and Brooke Henderson.

It's always something of a surprise that the diminutive Canadian hits the ball so far, but it has earned her plenty of success in this event: she's made six starts, landed five top six finishes, and was the winner in 2016.

She wasn't feeling well in recent weeks, which explains her lack of form, but she said in her Tuesday press conference that she feels fine now, that she was thrilled to earn Olympic selection, and that she was inspired by seeing Mackenzie Hughes contend in last week's US Open.

The Major machine - Inbee Park

She may not have won a Major Championship since 2015, but Inbee Park sure knows how to get herself on the front page of the leaderboard in them.

In all, she has 35 top 10s in 62 Major Championship starts.

In this tournament, she has eight from 14.

Park eyeing yet another top 10.
Park eyeing yet another top 10.

Since that last win, she has 13 in 22 appearances.

In the last two seasons, she has five from six!

And her form? In 2012 she's recorded seven in nine.

At 32, Park is far from old, but she's still taken inspiration from another recent men's major performance, that of Phil Mickelson.

She said Tuesday: "When he wins at his age, it's great to watch, it's like magic. It definitely gives you a lot more courage to go out and play well. So, yeah, I'm really excited for the week."

The form player - Min Lee

In recent LPGA Major Championships, we've seen lots of shocks and yet many of the champions had hinted that they were in form.

Hinako Shubuno won the 2019 Women's Open after two wins in Japan earlier in the summer, Sophia Popov claimed the same title last year after burning up the minor tours, A Lim Kim completed four top 10 finishes in a row on the KLPGA before winning December's US Open, Patty Tavatanakit contended on the LPGA before winning the ANA Inspiration, and earlier this month Yuko Sasa triumphed after playing well in Japan.

Any possibility of something similar? An in-form player who the books have overlooked?

Try Min Lee, whose last three results read: win on the Symetra Tour, second on the LPGA Tour (having led by two after 54 holes), and T29th last week (having been T5th after 18 holes).

There's an added reason to like Lee chances this week.

In her press conference Inbee park said: "The par-3s are really strong on this golf course, they're long and most of them have hazards. You have to play well on the par-3s. I think par-3 is definitely going to be a big key for this week."

Good news for Park, who leads the tour's par-3 scoring this season, but who sits behind her in second? Lee.

READ MORE: Rejuvenated Paul Casey all set to challenge again at TPC River Highlands

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