Donning inspirations in ink, Danielle Kang hopes to pen another victory story at the KPMG Women’s PGA
A day of steady rain was predicted for the Atlanta area on Tuesday, but once early morning precipitation sped through, the dark clouds moved out and two waves of pro- am participants enjoyed a pretty nice day at Atlanta Athletic Club, home to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Perhaps most relieved to stay dry was Danielle Kang, for good reason: She has has swing notes and thoughts from instructor Butch Harmon in ink written all across her left palm, her golf glove, and even up and down her arms.
It’s not as if she’s looking down to read and review before every shot, but the words she scribbles out remind her of certain keys that help bring her talents to the forefront. And Kang has lots of talent. At 28, the American is ranked sixth in the world, with five LPGA victories. She already knows what it takes to taste major
success; a giant photo on the wall in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship trailer at AAC shows Kang hoisting the heavy silver KPMG trophy over her head in 2017 at Olympia Fields’ North Course outside Chicago.
As all of her Harmon notes? She laughs as she tries to explain them. She swears by the teaching of Harmon, a coach she respects for giving her “150 percent” and driving her to be a better golfer and role model. He’s not there by her side when she is competing, so the notes serve as a reminder to think good thoughts and keep battling no matter how she is playing. His most sage advice to her? No matter what is happening, it’s all going to be OK.
“It's scattered sometimes,” she said of her reminders in ink. “I write it down as soon as I need to remember it, but then sometimes I have an epiphany, and I go, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember he said that,’ and I write it down. Or I call when something is going wrong and he fixes it, and I write it down. It's not just here (on the left palm). It's on the glove. It's on the yardage books. I don't read it every hole, but I think writing things down for me gives me a reminder on what to do.”
Kang is certainly a player to watch this week at AAC’s Highlands Course. With the course softened by rains, it will play longer than what it measures (6,740 yards). As she scouted the course, Kang encountered lots of approaches in range of 180 yards or more, and she considers her long irons to be a strength.
“I’m pretty accurate with my long irons,” Kang said. “… I could attack the pins when people would hit it to 30 or 40 feet. We’ll see.”
A bad weekend (77-75) dropped Kang from contention to a tie for 35th at the recent U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club, but that result was sandwiched by a pair of T-5 finishes. She’s not certainly very far off, though she said her short game had to bail her out too often at Olympic. Kang said her swing got a little off
track after hitting the many left-to-right cut shots required at Olympic, and after swing work with Harmon last week, she arrives to the season’s third major feeling pretty confident with her game.
“I believe it's going to be a good week. I really like thinking golf courses, really tough places, because it's hard to get me to focus,” Kang said. “So if I have to focus, it's good and positive for me. KPMG has definitely elevated this championship … I come here, and from tee to green to the golf course, everything is just a major championship. It's bleeding that vibe.”
And Kang feels she is built for majors, and the tougher tests. She is up for that. She doesn’t need any notes on her palm to remind her that she and AAC could be a very good mix.