Amy Yang earns second Olympic berth after KPMG Women’s PGA Championship win

A major championship victory wasn’t all that Amy Yang earned on Sunday in Washington at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The 34-year-old captured her sixth LPGA Tour win and first major title at Sahalee Country Club, winning by three shots over Jin Young Ko, Lilia Vu and Miyu Yamashita. It was a victory for which Yang had waited 17 years after coming incredibly close on numerous occasions.

But the South Korean began doubting if she would ever accomplish that lifelong goal. Her win at Sahalee, however, has silenced those internal critics, finally quieting the voices in her head that told her she couldn’t do it.

It also propelled her up in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, moving Yang to fifth in the world, a 20-position jump in the standings that also bumped her up to fifth in the Olympic Golf Ranking and qualified Yang for her second Olympic Games.

Yang wasn’t aware that she had clinched a spot in the field at Le Golf National, only learning the news during a live interview on the Golf Channel set after her win. She had the opportunity to represent Korea in 2016 at the Rio Olympics, where she finished in a tie for fourth, and she’s excited to once again play for her country on one of the biggest stages in all of sport.

“I wasn't aware of it because I really wanted to represent South Korea,” Yang told Golf Channel. “That was one of my biggest goals for this year. (I’ve been) missing cuts the past few tournaments, and I saw my world ranking went down, so I wasn't sure if winning was enough to make the team. But I made it, so I'm very grateful for that.”

Another tight race for Olympic qualification involved Japan. While the first Japanese spot was essentially locked up by Yuka Saso after winning her second U.S. Women’s Open presented by Ally in early June at Lancaster Country Club, the race to secure the second spot came down to the wire.

Coming into the week at Sahalee, Ayaka Furue, Nasa Hataoka and Miyu Yamashita were sitting at 20th, 21st and 22nd, respectively, in the Rolex Rankings – all three needing to break away from the pack and secure a high finish in the year’s third major in order to overtake their counterparts in the Olympic Golf Ranking.

Six-time LPGA Tour winner Hataoka took herself out of the running after a missed cut at Sahalee, leaving Furue and Yamashita to battle it out for that coveted second Olympic spot over the weekend.

A second-round 74 and third-round 75 from Furue opened the door for Yamashita, who was 5-under for the tournament through three rounds and had a legitimate chance to win her first LPGA Tour major title on Sunday.

So, when Furue only managed to put up a 2-under 70 in the final round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Yamashita just needed to grind her way to a 1-over 73 to finish in a tie for second and move to 19th in the Rolex Rankings and Olympic Golf Ranking, securing her a place in the 60-player field for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“I'm happy that I could finish in the second place in this championship,” Yamashita said after her T2 showing. “I'm just going to try my best representing Japan if I play Olympics.”

With the addition of Yang, both the Republic of Korea and the United States will have three athletes competing at Le Golf National. Korea will also be represented by Jin Young Ko and Hyo Joo Kim, while the U.S. will see Nelly Korda, Lilia Vu and Rose Zhang play for the Red, White and Blue.

The Americans nearly added a fourth player to their Paris roster, as Ally Ewing finished in a tie for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to put herself in the Olympic conversation at the very last minute of the qualification period. Despite it being her second consecutive top-five finish in a major championship, the Mississippi native moved to 16th in the Rolex Rankings, one spot shy of qualifying for her first Games.

The 60 qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics were announced on June 25. The field will be finalized on July 9.