A year ago at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., just outside of San Jose, the second person Brittany Lang hugged after she emerged victorious at the U.S. Women’s Open in a playoff was her caddie Luke.
Luke Lang, a former professional golfer in his own right, is Brittany’s brother, and has been on his sister’s bag for all 12 of her years as a professional on the LPGA Tour, including for her two victories, including her first major a year ago. The Lang’s parents were on site in California to celebrate, too.
Luke and Brittany have made a formidable pair over the decade-plus they’ve been together on the course, as sister Brittany has earned nearly $7 million on the course. But their major victory in 2016 was a crowning achievement, and Brittany can’t wait to defend that title this week at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
“I’m excited to do it. Winning back-to-back Open’s would be a dream come true,” says Brittany. “Winning one is hard enough and it will be fun to have the spotlight on me a little bit. I just love the U.S. Open week. Defending or not, I just try to keep enjoying the week.”
Brittany has been a force at the U.S. Women’s Open for many years, for reasons she can’t quite put her finger on.
The 31-year-old kick-started her U.S. Women’s Open career with a bang, finishing tied for second as an amateur in 2005 at Cherry Hills Country Club. She hasn’t missed a cut at the U.S. Women’s Open in a decade, and has two other top-10 finishes to go along with her victory last year.
“I always seem to play well there,” she says of the U.S. Women’s Open setups. “I have been hitting the ball very well, which is always great for a U.S. Open. I love the USGA. I always love the venue they pick and how they set the course up.
“It’s the biggest test of the year for us and the biggest event in women’s golf,” she continues.
Through it all, brother Luke has been right there for her. And beyond that brother-sister connection, Brittany states that having her family support is one of the biggest keys to her success, especially considering it was her father who introduced her to the game when she was just nine years old.
“Family is so important,” she explains. “It’s so important when you’re traveling because it can be a lonely hard life out there, especially if you’re not playing well.”
Usually a brother-sister dynamic is one of lighthearted arguments, but after 12 years together on the course, it seems like something just clicks for the siblings.
“I’m very stubborn and I don’t listen to a lot of people and for some reason I listen to him,” says Brittany, as her husband laughs and nods playfully beside her. “But I always listen to Luke and we have a lot of fun. We have similar-but-different personalities that blend really well. It’s been a great journey with him, having family there through the good times and bad.”
A year ago at the U.S Women’s Open, Brittany was two shots back heading into the final round, and was up against a charging Anna Nordqvist, who fired one of the low rounds of the tournament, a 5-under-par 67, on Sunday to rocket up the leaderboard.
After Nordqvist was assessed a late penalty, it was Brittany who emerged victorious after a three-hole playoff.
Brittany said last year that, as a young American girl, she dreamt of lifting that particular trophy. Now that she has, she has her sights set on doing it again, but she knows she’ll have to have all aspects of her game firing at the highest level, admitting this year she’s been just a little off.
She says she’s worked on her wedge game and her scoring from 125 yards and in, and says although her ball striking has been tremendous, she hasn’t gotten a lot out of those quality iron shots.
“My putter has been a little bit cold, but it was very hot last year,” she says, as she notched 12 top-20 finishes in 2016. “But I always feel like at the U.S. Open if you hit quality shots you’re rewarded, and I just enjoy that.”
Brittany visited Trump National earlier this year and says, although she didn’t get in a practice round during her visit, she hasn’t seen a U.S. Women’s Open golf course that doesn’t fit her game.
“I love (the USGA) venues and how they set them up. This one looks really, really pure and… fancy,” she says with a laugh. “It’s a nice, fancy place and it should be good for the girls.”
It’s impossible to predict how Brittany will do this week in New Jersey as she defends her first major title, but signs are pointing to her trending at the right time. And one thing she’ll be able to count on, per usual, is the support of her family.
“I’m so lucky to have my husband who loves coming out, my parents love coming out, and my brother is always there,” she says. “I’m just very fortunate to have all that support. It’s a big deal.”