Kang learning to (mostly) channel her emotions
__CHARLOTTE--The new__Danielle Kang is calmer, cooler and more collected. Well at least most of the time. Had you gone through what the 17-year-old Pepperdine sophomore-to-be experienced Friday afternoon at the U.S. Women's Amateur, you too would have been steamed.
All square in her quarterfinal showdown with Sydnee Michaels, after her opponent holed a long birdie putt on the 17th at Charlotte CC to win the hole, Kang was in the proverbial driver's seat on the home hole. Michaels had her tee shot in the left rough, dribbled her second into a fairway bunker, gouged out her third shot short of the green and chipped on with her fourth shot. Kang, meanwhile, was the green in two, but some 50 feet from the hole.
Yet after lagging her birdie try to four feet, Kang did the unthinkable, missing the par attempt and allowing Michaels to extend the match when she made her bogey.
"I haven't shown that I get upset at the golf course [all week], except that hole," said Kang, who covered her face with her hands and looked skyward in disgust before moving on to the next tee. "Anybody would be upset at that hole, come on."
The frustration lingered as she and Michaels played the 10th hole, finally quieted when Kang's father/caddie K.S. brought a moment of levity.
"He said we're just giving [the crowd] more entertainment," Kang recalled, a quip that put a smile on her face. In turn Kang redeemed herself by making a par on the first extra hole, while Michaels made bogey, to secure the win.
That Kang would shown her frustration has been the exception this week at the USGA's oldest women's championship. Ever since playing at the U.S. Women's Open, Kang says she's had a new approach about her on-course demeanor.
"What I learned playing Oakmont is really valuable because I had no patience whatsoever at that course," said Kang, who played well enough to make the cut but shot a 78-80 over the weekend to finish 64th. "After the cut, nothing worked out the way I wanted to and I got really upset. I realized I could have saved a lot of shots if I didn't get frustrated and upset."
Subsequently, Kang earned medalist honors at the U.S. Girls' Junior, eventually reaching the quarterfinals in the event, then finished second at the Canadian Women's Amateur earlier this month (losing, coincidentally, to Michaels).
Mind you, Kang, who now faces Alabama sophomore Jennifer Kirby in Saturday's semifinals, always knew being a little less demonstrative might help her in pressure situations.
"I know my parents have been saying that to me all my life," Kang said, "but finally Oakmont just threw it in my face."
Sydnee Michaels' galent come-back try fell short when she made a bogey on the first extra hole in her match with Danielle Kang. With that, the 22-year-old's amateur career had come to a close. Having won the Canadian Women's Amateur earlier in the month, earning her an exemption into the Canadian Women's Open, Michaels will play in the tournament as a professional after finishing up her college career at UCLA last spring. Meanwhile, Michaels has two more courses to finish before she graduates in September.