Danielle Kang birdied her 72nd hole to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday, for her first LPGA Tour title. The 24-year-old closed with a four-under 68 to finish at 13-under 271 at Illinois’ Olympia Fields.
Kang bogeyed the tricky par-three 17th, which brought her back into a tie for the lead with defending champion, Brooke Henderson. But she responded with two fantastic shots to get to the green in two at 18, which set her up with a putt for eagle.
With two putts for victory, Danielle rolled her eagle putt up to 2 feet and held the birdie putt to claim victory by one shot.
“I just told myself it was my week. It was my day,” Kang said.
“The three-putt on No. 10 was the turning point for me,” Kang said about a missed 3 footer. “I said I’m going to learn from that and then I made four birdies in a row. Having a major championship in my resume, I don’t know what it will do,” Kang said.
Holing putts from 9, 20, 30 and 8 feet on holes 11 – 14 had Danielle go from trailing by one shot, to leading by three. On the 16th hole, she made a 21 foot putt for a crucial par.
Danielle’s first victory came at her 144th LPGA start and was a very popular one amongst athletes all around the world.
Michelle Wie, one of Kang’s closest friends on tour, followed her around right after the victory. Dustin Johnson texted “That’s how you’re supposed to play, congrats,” and Wayne Gretzky and Caitlyn Jenner — two buddies from her days at Sherwood Country Club in California also reached out.
Danielle’s late father, K.S, caddied for her when she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2010 and 2011. She keeps a journal where she writes messages to her father. Her mother, Grace Lee, was one of the first people to congratulate her and she also Facetimed with her brother Alex, who plays on the Web.com Tour.
“If I could wish anything, I would wish that my Dad saw me win,” said Kang, wiping tears from her eyes. “I think that it’s been a really difficult road for me the past four or five years. It’s life though, you pick yourself up and you have to keep working hard at it, and then believe in what you’re doing, and not letting yourself down.”
Congratulations on your maiden victory Danielle. We all knew that it was coming and could not be any prouder of you!