The amateur who plays for Pepperdine University was supposed to be the tagalong in a group that featured Yani Tseng, world's No. 1 player, and defending champion Paula Creamer.
Instead, Danielle Kang captured her share of the spotlight in the morning round at the U.S. Women’s Open on Friday, finishing tied with Creamer and one stroke ahead of Tseng, who's attempting to complete a career Grand Slam this week.
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2011 U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
The East Course at the Broadmoor is hosting the U.S. Women's Open for the first time since 1995, when Annika Sorenstam won her first major title.
Little did Tseng and Creamer realize, but Kang also was paying close attention to them, carefully studying how they handle the pressures of a U.S. Open.
Mental notes to help her down the line.
"They're very patient and steady," Kang said. "They make mistakes, but they save them and save shots."
Kang didn't do too bad in that area herself. She had one bad hole, a double bogey on No. 14, along with two bogeys in the first round. But she also had three birdies.
Not a bad way of coping with an early case of the nerves.
"I still had a queasy feeling going into the second hole," Kang chuckled.
The nerves quickly dissipated for the 18-year-old. That was due, in part, to the social nature of Tseng, who chatted with Kang all the way through the round.
The conversations ranged from family life to when Kang might turn pro. The chats were calming for Kang.
"I'm really talkative. For me to not talk is hard," said Kang, who qualified for the U.S. Open in 2007 as a 14-year-old and again last year when she was one of just six amateurs to make the cut.
Kang didn't have a chance to chat with Creamer, who was concentrating on her round.
"I didn't want to bother her," Kang said.
The gallery following the threesome was the largest of any on the course. And while the cheers were split between Creamer and Tseng, there were some shouts for Kang as well, the relative unknown in the group.
"That was exciting," Kang said. "I loved it. There were so many people. I wanted to take a picture, but I can't take my phone out."
UNDER THE WEATHER: After waking up sick to her stomach Friday, 13-year-old Mariel Galdiano briefly thought about withdrawing from the tournament.
"But we spent so much money to get here," she said. "So I got up, went out there and played."
Even 10 minutes before her round started back up Friday, Galdiano was questionable to take the course. She drank some peppermint iced tea to settle her stomach and gave it a shot.
"She looked pretty bad this morning," said her father, Roger, who also served as her caddie. "Maybe it was a combination of altitude and not being in a daily routine. But I'm just glad she finished the first round."
The teenager from Pearl City, Hawaii, is the youngest player in the field this week.
Galdiano was 6 over through 13 holes when play was halted Thursday because of weather. She struggled to find her groove Friday morning, going 8 over on the last five holes to finish her opening round with a 14-over 85.
"I just wasn't feeling good," she said. "I didn't have much time to warm up."
NOTHING TO CROW ABOUT: Sun Young Yoo had a crow swoop down on the ninth fairway and pick up her ball, moving it about 2 feet.
She ended up dropping the ball near the original spot and playing on.
BISON STAMPEDE: North Dakota State's Amy Anderson is treating the U.S. Open like any other tournament. Only with way more pressure and fans.
Anderson didn't allow the setting to intimidate her, finishing the first round at 2-under 69.
"It's exciting; hasn't sunk in," Anderson said.
Anderson credits her early success to her brother's ability to decipher the tricky greens at the Broadmoor. Serving as her caddie, Nathan Anderson, who also plays golf for the Bison, has been right on with his reads.
"He's really analytical, figures things out a lot better than I would. He has a great mind for that," Anderson said.
Anderson has a large contingent of family and friends following her around this week.
"They're out there supporting me," she said. "Even if I miss a putt or whatever, they're just excited for me, cheering for me. It makes it fun, when I hit a great shot or a putt."
WEBB GEM: Karrie Webb can't explain why her game has suddenly rounded back into shape.
The seven-time major winner found herself in a funk in recent seasons, winning just once over the past four years heading into 2011. But this season she's already captured two titles.
Webb shot a 1-under 70 in her first round to remain within striking distance of the leaders.
"It's nothing specific," the 36-year-old Webb said of her resurgence. "It's just golf. You're not that far away, but your scores say you are."
When asked if she would take three more rounds like the one she turned in Friday morning, Webb didn't hesitate.
"Yeah, I would," said Webb, who won the U.S. Open in 2000 and '01.
Good enough to win on this challenging course?
"I didn't have the foggiest idea what score would win this week," Webb said. "I've never been very good at predicting it. But I would think that would put me with a good chance."
CHIP SHOTS: Betsy King, who won the U.S. Open in 1989 and '90, finished her first round with a 12-over 83. At 55, she's the oldest player in the field. ... Karen Stupples briefly shared the first-round lead at 3 under but made three bogeys over the final four holes to finish 1-over 72.