Kelly Tan's learning what it takes to contend
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA – Thursday wasn’t just Kelly Tan’s day. It’s been Kelly Tan’s month.
For those who have followed the LPGA Tour in recent weeks, it should come as no surprise Tan’s name is atop the leaderboard on day one of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Thursday, a series of 20 and 30-footers on the large undulating greens of Aronimink Golf Club lifted her to a 3-under par, 67.
“Ball-striking was really good today, and I just feel like I was hitting to the right spot, giving myself those uphill looks, and made a few nice 20 to 30-footers,” Tan said after her round.
“Yeah, that was my day.”
In two of her last three starts, including the ANA Inspiration, she jumped out to a hot start early in the week. She opened with rounds of 68-70 to sit inside the top 10 heading into the weekend in Rancho Mirage. At last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, she was T5 heading into the weekend. On both occasions, that’s where Tan struggled.
“The past few weeks where I was at definitely gave me a little taste of what being in contention is like, and it's nice to put yourself in that position,” Tan said Thursday. “I feel like it's something that you have to learn about how you react in those situations. I'm in a good spot.”
Tan is learning what it takes to not only contend but to win on the biggest stage in the game. She hasn’t yet broken through for a first win on the LPGA Tour as she’s struggled since joining the Tour in 2014. In 2018 and 2019 she played primarily on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s developmental Tour. But Tan has tasted success in those ranks, winning for the first time in 2019.
As Tan has regained her form, she’s also earned the ability to once again compete in major championships. This week, Tan is making her first appearance at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship since 2017. Thursday, she recorded her career low round at the Championship.
“It's a major championship. You're going to make bogeys. I just look at it as those things are going to happen,” Tan said. “Just keep telling myself to keep giving myself chances.”
With enough chances this weekend Tan could make Sunday not just her day, but a very special one.