Danielle Kang: Grief over her father’s dying helped drive golfer to main success

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Okay.S. was there by his daughter’s facet, reassuring her on the closing playoff gap within the 2010 U.S Girls’s Beginner match, saying it was simply additional “TV time.” He was additionally there throughout her protection of that title, making jokes as as to whether he ought to put on the ring handed out to the winner or give it to Kang’s mom. Kang had given her father the winner’s ring after her 2010 success.

So when Okay.S. died in 2013 from most cancers, Kang was devastated. She’d turned skilled in 2011, however within the following two years, was unable to win a professional match. She in some way felt she’d “failed” her Dad.

Kang was additionally struggling to take care of the fact of what skilled sport calls for.

“I felt like golf took away things that I wished I [hadn’t] missed out on,” Kang instructed CNN’s Residing Golf Shane O’Donoghue. “I was young. I missed my friends. I missed graduation. I missed spending time with my family. I’m out on the road alone. Everything that it was that I should be in love with, I wasn’t in love with. I just played to play, and I was very angry and I wasn’t happy.

“And I instructed my mother that finally. And she or he stated to me: ‘Should you’re not completely happy, cease enjoying.'”

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It was only when Kang stopped playing that she discovered how much she loved competing.

Approaching golf with a new “mindset” helped Kang secure her first major — the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship — following a playoff. That PGA Championship success was her first professional win.

Kang hugs her mom Grace Lee after winning the the 2017 KPMG PGA Championship.

Sibling motivation

Sporting talent clearly runs in the Kang family. Her older brother Alex is a professional golfer and his desire to improve rubbed off on his sister.

Alex was also a talented soccer player and at the age of 12 went to Brazil to chase that dream. Two years later when he returned to the US, her brother had caught the golf “bug,” according to Danielle. When the pair visited their father in South Korea, the siblings used to spend hours together on the golf range, which is where Alex’s work ethic was born.

“I dedicate my golf recreation so much to him as a result of I would not be the place I’m at the moment [without him],” says the 28-year-old Kang of her brother.

“I consider that it’s important to have expertise, however … expertise runs out at one level … exhausting work catches up,” she explained.

“I at all times say golf does not owe you something. And I believe that is the great thing about it … irrespective of how exhausting we work, generally it simply does not repay.”

Alex Kang plays a shot on the 17th hole during the Korn Ferry Tour Q-School Tournament Finals.


Teenager Kang’s hard work quickly paid off and at the age of 14, she qualified to play in the U.S. Women’s Open.

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Before her brother signed her up for the tournament, she hadn’t been aware of the significance of her qualification at such a young age. “Everybody was so excited, and I did not know why. They stated it was a significant and my response was, ‘What’s a significant?'”

Subsequently Kang missed the cut and as she dabbled with other interests — music, art and film — her performances dropped below her previous levels.

“The ambition began after I began enjoying unhealthy … and that irritated me. So I began training so much as a result of I did not like enjoying unhealthy.”

That dedication to practice saw her graduate from Pepperdine, win back-to-back U.S Women’s Amateur titles and then become golf’s No. 1 ranked amateur.

Kang, who was an amateur at the time, hits a tee shot on the first hole during the first round of the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.

Returning hot

Kang’s five LPGA wins have brought her career earnings of over $6 million. Two of those wins came in the space of a fortnight following the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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While she wasn’t competing last year, Kang and her coach Butch Harmon, who used to work with Tiger Woods, spent time on her mental approach to the game.

“I wished to be prepared bodily; I wished to be rested. I wished my recreation to be ready,” Kang explained.

“He [Harmon] instructed me my largest enemy goes to be being too excited. He instructed me to settle down from per week earlier than and day-after-day he’d remind me: ‘Do not get too excited.'”

Now the world No. 5, Kang credits Harmon for her rise up the rankings. His “comb by way of” of her game has been key, says Kang.

Later this year Kang hopes to fulfil a lifelong ambition of competing in the Olympics. As a youngster one of her dreams had been to compete in Taekwondo at an Olympics.

“I do know the pandemic, everybody’s fearful that it’ll be cancelled, nevertheless it’s been my dream to compete within the Olympics since I used to be child and I watched each Olympics all my life. Simply to compete in it and have the chance to win, to set myself up for an opportunity is my major objective this yr.”