Bogey-free through 36 holes, Danielle Kang sticking to game plan at KPMG Women's PGA Championship

Danielle Kang
USA Today Sports Images
Danielle Kang has yet to win on the LPGA Tour. However, if the 24-year-old can play the final two rounds the way she has the first two at Olympia Fields, her first victory might just be a major.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: PGA

Published: Friday, June 30, 2017 | 3:48 p.m.

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois -- Major championship courses typically don't yield bogey-free rounds.

Here at Olympia Fields, Danielle Kang already has two of them through her first two rounds of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

Kang backed up a 2-under 69 in Round 1 with a sizzling, 5-under 66 in Round 2 on Friday, finishing just before weather briefly halted play. That gave Kang a share of the clubhouse lead at 7-under 135 with Sei Young Kim.

"Both those rounds I kept my game plan and they were bogey-free, so I'm pretty happy," said the 24-year-old Kang, who turned pro in 2012. "I kept sticking to the iron shots that I trusted all my life, and giving myself opportunities, is what I've been doing."

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Kang has four top-10 finishes this season. She's never won on the LPGA Tour and her career-best performance was a T3 at the 2012 Kingsmill Championship.

Over the final 36 holes, the Pepperdine University product said she's going to simply focus on what she has the first 36 holes and that's sticking to a game plan. She's also not afraid to peek over at the leaderboards.

"We'll see what happens at the end of the week," she said. "But I'm going to keep sticking to my game plan and stay aggressive and see where I end up.

"I love watching the leaderboard," Kang said. "I usually look at the leaderboard to see if there are birdies out there or not. Today seems like there are more under par scores. The wind is blowing a little but less, and yeah, I was looking up at the leaderboard but my game plan doesn't change. I just have to keep giving myself opportunities. That's all I could do at this golf course. It's a tough track."

The stellar first two rounds come as something as a surprise.

Kang, while harping on following her game plan, fessed up that she didn't have a game plan at all after getting her first practice round on Tuesday. She was overwhelmed.

When she finished, she called her brother, Alex, as well as her caddie to come up with a plan. The consensus was this: give yourself chances at birdie putts and don't let the greens get the best of you.

So what was it that was so overwhelming?

"It's probably one of the hardest courses I've played on Tour," Kang said. "Somebody asked me what the toughest course was that I ever played. It was Oakmont. At the golf course, you can't take your mind off it for one second. Every shot, you have to be 100 percent focused and that's what got me overwhelmed because, you know, sometimes you just hit it on the green and putt. If you think just a little less, like on the last hole where I didn't think about speed, and look, I ended up 3 feet short. It wasn't an easy 3-footer."

Kang did make that 3-footer though, officially a two-putt birdie on the final hole.

If she has two more rounds like these first two, LPGA victory No. 1 could very well be a major.  

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.