Final thoughts from Women's Amateur

August 16, 2011

__BARRINGTON, R.I.—__In my story from the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship that appears in this week's Golf World, I talk about how the biggest knock on Danielle Kang in years past has been that her image of how good a golfer she is has often been more inflated compared to just how good a golfer she actually was. That's not to say she hasn't been among the more talented players in year's past. It's just that there are times when she'd have you believe her shots don't slice, if you know what I'm saying.

Yet that performance she put on Sunday at Rhode Island CC in defeating Moriya Jutanugarn, 6 and 5, and claiming her second straight Women's Amateur title actually had me thinking that for the first time Kang might actually be underrating her game. The display Kang showed from tee to green was astounding. It was like you were watching a highlight reel rather than an actual make. As I mentioned on Twitter (@gwcampusinsider) during the final, it felt like a filling in a terribly boring game of Madlibs. ("Kang hits her approach to _ _ ft. Rolls in her _ _ birdie of the day.")

By my counting, for 31 holes I saw Kang hit three "bad" shots. On the 15th hole, her approach shot from the fairway was pushed right into a greenside bunker. On the 23rd hole (the par-3 fifth), her tee shot missed the green left in the rough, short sided. On the 26th hole (the par-5 eighth) her second shot landed short of the green by 20 yards and she flubbed her chip to the green, failing to actually get it on the putting surface.

And that's that. Every other shot seemed to be executed just right, no sign of the pulled iron shots that Kang had made in Friday's quarterfinals and Saturday's semifinals thanks to the soreness she was feeling in her back and ribs.

I don't know exactly know what active release therapy is, but that was the method of treatment chiropractor Dr. Ellen McNally performed on Kang Friday night to help ease the tension in Kang's body. It sure seemed to have done the trick come Sunday. Kang's performance was so impressive, I'm thinking of calling McNally to see if she can help me hit the golf ball that straight.

Some other thoughts from my week hard by Narragansett Bay:

All this said, what I would be concerned about for Kang is the fact that the 18-year-old doesn't appear to have much of a plan for the next few months. When asked whether she has any starts in pro events lined up, she said nothing yet. She didn't elaborate much on whether she has tried contacting tournament director's for any invites. Maybe Kang was just playing coy—hopefully actually—because otherwise having known this was going to be her last amateur event for a few months now, you'd hope she'd have things buttoned up for her schedule between now and the second stage of LPGA Q school.

It was also inspiring to see Pancake play so well given the tough couple of months she's experienced. In June, her family home in Chattanooga was damaged in a fire. Pancake wasn't there at the time, and thankfully no one was injured, but it has made for a tougher summer on her mother and sisters. That of course comes on top of what happened in April, when a tornado ravaged her college town. Living in Tuscaloosa this summer, Pancake says the devastation is still very evident and that the place has a different feel as the community continues to try to rebuild.

I also like the fact that she doesn't have any kind of attitude. She's carefree, as evident by the $5 sunglasses she sported on her head all week, as gaudy as you can find but the neon yellow frames went well with her LSU colors. And that's even after claiming the NCAA title. Winning hasn't changed her any just yet. Hopefully it won't in the future.

** pressure-free meaning that his tournament results didn't equate to money earned, which would equate to being able to pay the rent, bills, and his overall lifestyle*>

Without college golf, Bradley would have been throw into the world of mini-tours likely with less self-esteem and a far greater potential for early failure to become a deterrent to future success. The lesson from this is that college golf isn't all about producing All-Americans; it's about developing people on and off the golf course.