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Players excited about the feel and history of the Congress | LPGA

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BETHESDA, MARYLAND | The LPGA visits the famed Congressional Country Club this week outside of Washington, DC for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on a course that has previously hosted five major championships. Those were all from the men’s game, including the 1964 US Open (Ken Venturi), the 1976 PGA Championship (Dave Stockton), the US Open).

This championship will be the first women’s major organized in this memorable club and the ladies feel lucky for the opportunity.

“Everything is pretty big here and you honestly feel like you’re not at a regular Tour event,” Sophia Popov told LPGA.com of what it’s like to be on the grounds of the Congressional Blue Course. “It’s fun to drive up here and just see everything. It reminds me a bit of when I saw Rory (US Open 2011). I’m a huge Rory fan so it’s great that we can now play on the same golf course.”

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So does Popov remember where he was that week in 2011?

“I was actually in Germany. It was between my freshman and sophomore years of college,” Popov said. “I went home for the summer. In Germany it’s always late at night, so I clearly remember that time and stayed up. I remember it was around 2 a.m. in my time in Germany when Rory putted his last putt and I remember it quite vividly, so it’s nice for me to look back on it this week.”

For Rachel Rohanna, seeing Rory win felt like a thing of the recent past, not more than a decade ago.

“It was in 2011, but it feels like just three or four years ago. It was great to see that and remember that as I play on the field this week,” Rohanna said.

It should be noted that in 2020, architect Andrew Green redesigned the course and removed over a thousand trees, allowing the iconic clubhouse to be seen on all eighteen holes.

“The clubhouse is beautiful and it’s so big. I’ve gotten lost in that four or five times already,” Rohanna laughed. “It is a special place. You can’t play a course like this every day. I’ll just try to enjoy the experience and appreciate being able to play in Congress and soak up the atmosphere.”

Rohanna chuckled at the thought of playing her home course in Green County, Pennsylvania, with her caddy uncle and friends in a party of eight just the day before she arrived at the world-famous Congressional Blue Course.

“Even if you’ve seen it on TV, I don’t think you realize how huge this place is until you get here and walk around it,” Rohanna said.

Mariah Stackhouse is playing this week on a KPMG sponsor’s exemption, and she’s delighted with the scenery this course presents.

“I think it’s incredibly special that we ladies get to play here. That’s the thing with KPMG, once they took over this tournament, they’ve been really good at making sure they give us access to historic courses with a lot of history and great competition,” Stackhouse said. “And it’s amazing for us to be in this place where the men have played big events and for us to test our game as well.”

Stackhouse explains that the great feeling of the event takes hold of you long before you hit the first tee.

“Look at this amazing practice facility, look at the momentum that’s coming in here, everything about this place feels great,” Stackhouse said. “From the moment you set foot on the premises, before you even get to the first tee, everything is first class and really helps to elevate the feel of the event and deepens your understanding of what this major is all about. It is a great championship and you feel it everywhere. I think it puts us in the zone quickly.”

Some major championship courses have more history than others, but Congressional is so well known that 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Brooke Henderson says she can “absolutely” feel the history on the property here.

“It just feels like a great championship golf course,” Henderson said. “Knowing that the men have played here and to have so many great champions crowned here, it’s great for us to be here this week. I’m super excited for the opportunity to play here.”

It seems Henderson gets an extra kick in his step that one of his favorite male players, Rory McIlroy, got that famous win here eleven years ago at the US Open for his first major victory.

“I’m a big fan of Rory, so to have him win here is a really good thing for me. It’s been a lot of fun going through the pictures of him and the scorecard of him in the locker room and remembering his win from that week,” Henderson said.

Soon we’ll have our own chance on Sunday to celebrate a big win for one of these ladies on that same 18th green where Rory’s life was changed forever.

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