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Danielle Kang moonlights as a putter maker(!), surges up leaderboard in Singapore

March 03, 2023
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Andrew Redington

The pelting rain and a nearly 3½ hour weather delay in Singapore couldn't stop Danielle Kang from storming up the leaderboard Friday, jumping from T-29 to take the lead at the HSBC Women's World Championship. The six-time LPGA Tour winner tied a career-best bogey-free 63 with a staunch performance from the newest weapon in her bag: 25 putts by a one-of-a-kind putter stamped “DK Special” built by Scotty Cameron himself.

“It was really cool,” Kang said of making her putter, “because I had an idea, then Mr. Scotty Cameron sketched it out, and then all of a sudden my thoughts became real. He molded them, and then we spent hours, and I think it took days for him to make these molds.

“And then I was with him for seven hours straight, grinding them, making it, buffering, lie lofting. It was incredible for me to watch. And I absolutely love that putter.”

It delivered five birdies before Kang teed off on the 11th hole at Sentosa Country Club. The 30-year-old didn't even get halfway down the par 4 when the weather picked up and the horn blew. Instead of stressing about the 222-yard shot in that she had on the 415-yard par 4, Kang mainly meditated and caught up with friends during the extended weather delay.

“I just close my eyes,” Kang said, “and try and listen to all the noise. I try and kind of see things I didn't realize. Like it's like experiencing the five senses type of deal.”

Kang returned, getting up and down on the 11th. She proceeded to birdie her next three in a row as her putter continued its sterling performance. The 12-year LPGA pro used aim point and veteran guile Friday to handle the challenge of reading the greens following the heavy rain. On the par-5 16th, her experience guided Kang to her final birdie of the day.

"It took me 11 years to learn that that putt [on the 16th] breaks right," said Kang, who at 10 under holds a one-shot edge on Allisen Corpuz, Elizabeth Szokol and Hyo Joo Kim, "And I aimed left and hit it, and it went in. So that was pretty awesome."

Kang made another tweak to allow her putter to put on a show Friday. One of Kang's two coaches, Drew Steckel, flew out to help her in Thailand on Friday and Saturday. They worked on trying to get her swing to be more consistent. Following hitting 80 percent of fairways and 65 percent of greens in regulation at the Honda LPGA Thailand, she's found every fairway and reached 86 percent of her greens in regulation in Singapore.

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Danielle Kang was able to keep her early momentum during Friday's second round despite a 3 1/2 hour rain delay to post a 63 and take the lead.

Andrew Redington

Now Kang holds her first 36-hole lead since the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January 2022, familiar territory for the American at Sentosa Golf Club. She led after the second round of the HSBC Women's World Championship in 2018, where Michelle Wie West beat her by a stroke.

As Kang sits in contention for her first win since 2022’s season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and a four-month break dealing with a tumor on her spine last summer, the "DK Special" might prove the difference maker.

“My putter has been really hot for a while,” Kang said, “So thank you, Mr. Scotty. It's working.”