Kang surprises everyone with major breakthrough win
Danielle Kang’s previous best finish in 30 previous majors was 14th place, she had also never won on the LPGA Tour. Now she is a major champion after winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by a shot from the defending champion Brooke Henderson at Olympia Fields.
And the 24-year-old from San Francisco did it in style with five birdies on the back nine, four on the trot from the 11th and, crucially, another at the last after a nerveless fairway wood to the heart of the par-5 green.
Her putter got hot on the back nine, knocking in efforts of 20, 30 and 10 feet for birdies at 12, 13 and 14 before another 20-footer for par two holes later. There was a blip at 17 when she found sand but the four at the last, for a 68, edged her past the Canadian.
Henderson birdied the last two holes for a 66 and came within half an inch of making eagle at the last. Chella Choi, who was tied with Kang for the lead coming into the day, was third at 10 under after a 71.
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The tough part for Kang was that her father wasn’t around to see her first win – he died from brain and lung cancer during her second LPGA season having caddied for his daughter in her two US Amateur victories.
“If I could wish anything, I would wish that my dad saw me win. I think that it’s been a really difficult road for me for the past four or five years,” Kang said.
“It’s life, though. You have to pick yourself up, and you have to keep working hard at it, and then believe in what you’re doing, and not letting yourself down.
“I’m pretty sure he had something to do with it. It’s just incredible. But I know that he was there, because I felt him. I felt him with me every day, and I still do.”
As for the final tap-in she added: “For some reason, I remembered my dad telling me, ‘I’ll buy you a TV if you make this.’ So I wasn’t even worried about the putt.”