BACK-NINE CHARGE GUIDES DANIELLE KANG TO VICTORY IN KPMG WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Danielle Kang, sparked by a four-hole birdie streak on the back nine, charged to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Sunday at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, becoming the eighth player in history to make the major her first professional victory.
The 24-year-old San Francisco native and two-time U.S. Amateur Champion separated herself from playing partner and 54-hole co-leader Chella Choi of the Republic of Korea with a birdie run from holes 11 to 14. Kang entered the Championship, boasting the strongest women’s field of the year, as the No. 43-ranked player in the world.
Kang joined an elite list that made the Championship their first major victory: Shanshan Feng (2012); Anna Nordqvist (2009); Yani Tseng (2008); Se Ri Pak (1998); Sherri Turner (1988); Sandra Post (1968); and Gloria Ehret (1966).
72ND HOLE DRAMA
Danielle Kang today became the first player to birdie the 72nd and final hole to win this Championship by a single stroke since Meg Mallon in 1991. That year, playing in the final group at Bethesda (Md.) Country Club, Pat Bradley, Ayako Okamoto and Mallon all lined up birdie putts on the final hole of regulation. Only Mallon delivered, holing a 10-footer for victory.
KANG COMPLETES RARE 1-2 PUNCH
Danielle Kang registered her first professional victory today, winning the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Kang is also a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion, having won in consecutive years: 2010 and ’11. With Kang’s win today, she became the first player to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship since Juli Inkster completed the circuit in 1999. Inkster won this Championship in both 1999 and 2000, after having previously claimed three straight U.S. Women’s Amateurs from 1980-82.
SILVER LINING FOR BROOKE
Brooke Henderson became the first defending KPMG Women’s PGA Champion since Laura Davies in 1995, and fifth overall, to follow their Championship victory with a runner-up finish the next year. Davies would go on to rebound and win the Championship again in 1996. The other three to go winner/runner-up in consecutive years: Sandra Haynie (1974-75); Kathy Whitworth (1967-68); and Mickey Wright (1963-64).
Champion Danielle Kang (69-66-68-68) and runner-up Brooke Henderson (68-69-69-66) were the only two players in the field to break 70 in each of their four rounds. Four other players posted three sub-70 rounds: Mi Hyang Lee, T-4 (69-67-72-67); Sei Young Kim, T-4 (69-66-72-68); Inbee Park, T-7 (73-67-69-68); and Lexi Thompson, T-7 (70-69-69-69).
CUTS AND TOP 10s
After posting a first round 3-over-par 74, Stacy Lewis was in danger of missing her first LPGA cut since the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic. Instead, a 67 on Friday secured a 34th straight made cut at a major championship for the 32-year-old from The Woodlands, Texas. Lewis finished 70-67 over her final two rounds and finished in a tie for 9th place, which marks her 18th career top 10 at a major and fifth career top 10 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
A global melting pot of talent, international players had won 15 of the previous 16 KPMG Women’s PGA Championships before Danielle Kang halted that surge today, becoming the first American to win this Championship since Cristie Kerr in 2010.