One of the LPGA's longest hitters is channeling Jack Nicklaus while contending at the KPMG Women’s PGA

June 21, 2019
angel yin KPMG Women's PGA Championship - Round One

David Cannon

CHASKA, Minn. — Angel Yin hits the ball a long way. The 21-year-old from California averages 282 yards off the tee, which is second on the LPGA Tour in driving distance. Only rookie Anne Van Dam is longer, and yes, long-hitting Ariya Jutanugarn has hit driver only twice this season, so she could technically be longer than Yin. But Yin doesn't let these facts get in the way of how she thinks about her length.

After shooting one under in her first round at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, which puts her among the contenders on Day 2, Yin was asked if anyone on tour could outdrive her.

"Even if they do, I won't admit it," was Yin's response.

Yin loves how far she hits the ball—she says it's the part of her game she's happiest with. So, she doesn't let anything get in the way of her confidence in that aspect of her game.

She's not the only golfer who thinks about their game like that.

We sent her comments to sports psychologist Gio Valiante, who's worked with many tour pros, including Jack Nicklaus. He said her comments brought to mind something he recalls Jack saying once, “Golf's gentlemanly code requires that you always hide self-assuredness very carefully. But hide it or not, you'll never get very far without it.”

Valiante continued, "This is reminiscent of Alexander Dumas' observation that, 'A person who doubts themselves is like someone who would enlist in the ranks of their enemies and bear arms against themselves. They make their failure certain by being the first person to be convinced of it.'"

Basically, you might as well be your own best friend out there. Yin does it expertly, and it's working thus far at Hazeltine National, playing about 6,831 yards, significantly longer than most courses the LPGA Tour heads to weekly.

"Psychological research shows that the more you believe in the game you have, the better that game will perform," said Valiante. "The thing is, confidence need not be tethered to factual reality. That’s why it’s what we believe rather than what we know."

Yin has two top five finishes this year, one of them being a T-2 at the U.S. Women's Open at the Country Club of Charleston. A third of the way through her second round, she's T-5 at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, proving her mentality might be just right for the setup again this week.