LPGAJune 30, 2017

Danielle Kang is an unlikely leader at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship

KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One
Gregory ShamusOLYMPIA FIELDS, IL - JUNE 29: Danielle Kang watches her tee shot on the third hole during the first round of the 2017 KPMG PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club on June 28, 2017 in Olympia Fields, Illinois. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Danielle Kang is the kind of player who likes watching the leader board. On Friday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, it was fun for her to do just that, since it was her name on top of it. Heading into the weekend at Olympia Fields Country Club outside of Chicago, Kang is in a tie for first with Sei Young Kim at seven under.

Though this is a position Kang hasn’t been in yet this season, she is calm and confident in her game. That’s something a combination of good ball-striking and strong putting will do.

“My day was really relaxing to be honest,” Kang said. “It was stressful but relaxing. I kept giving myself birdie opportunities.”

Last year Kang, currently ranked 43rd in the world, sat out six weeks of the season due to injuries. The 24-year-old former two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion had fractured the lunate bone in her hand, had bulging disks in her neck and had eye surgery at the end of the season. She still has tape on the wrist now, but she said doctors have cleared her to play and that it’s not an issue. Her play would obviously suggest that the injuries are no longer a problem. And her mental fortitude to fend them off is working in her favor.

“I say, pain is mental,” Kang said. “So if I don’t acknowledge it, it will just go away.”

Kang will have to acknowledge, however, that there are plenty of talented players chasing her. Kim has already won once this season, and four other players who have won in 2017 are within two shots of the lead. And that doesn’t even take into account Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie who are both three shots back, or Lexi Thompson who’s four shots back at three-under.

Play was delayed on Friday due to weather, and after that rain, there could be many more birdies to be made over the weekend.


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