HSBC Women’s World Championship 2018

Golf: Kang's moment of tooth

Danielle Kang posing for pictures at the autograph area after finishing Day 2 of the HSBC Women's World Championship at the top of the leaderboard. She shot a 64 yesterday for an aggregate of 132.
Danielle Kang posing for pictures at the autograph area after finishing Day 2 of the HSBC Women's World Championship at the top of the leaderboard. She shot a 64 yesterday for an aggregate of 132.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Dental setback no hindrance as she muscles to four-shot lead with joint course record

Danielle Kang put on four kilogrammes of muscle during the off-season and has duly manhandled the New Tanjong course.

The American needed only 64 strokes en route to an eight-under score at Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course yesterday that left her on 12-under 132 and an imposing halfway lead at the HSBC Women's World Championship.

She is four clear of compatriots Nelly Korda (66) and Marina Alex (67) and, ominously, the only golfer in the 63-player field yet to make a bogey after 36 holes.

Kang shot a 68 on Thursday and called it "easy golf", a phrase she repeated again after draining eight birdies yesterday.

She said: "(The) game is coming easy right now. There are lots of birdies out there. I'm hitting it well, rolling the putt well. It feels like just a cruising day. Just hit fairways, greens and have a run for a birdie."

Her 64 also tied the course record, set last year by Park In Bee in her final round as she won the US$1.5 million (S$2 million) event.

The additional power from a stronger and fitter body - her driving average last season was 248.7 yards while this week it is 266.5 yards - has helped Kang, who birdied all four par-fives yesterday.

  • 17.8 

    Average yards that a fitter Danielle Kang has gained on her drives this week, which helped her to birdie all four par-fives yesterday.

The 25-year-old said: "My body is feeling good, swing is feeling great and, as long as my body can keep up with the speed of the swing, I don't feel like the club is swinging me, that was my goal."

She ended a six-year wait for her first LPGA Tour title last year when she captured the Women's PGA Championship, which is a Major.

That victory has only made her hungrier, noted the world No. 21, who clarified she had broken her tooth on Thursday while having breakfast and not during a stretching accident as had been reported.

She added: "It was just kind of like a spark. I just needed my spark back and needed my fire back. It was kind of dulling out a little bit.

"I felt relief, just a weight off my shoulders. I got a taste of winning and I want more of it."

Her nearest pursuers, Korda and Alex, are both winless on the LPGA.

Korda, 19, said: "I'm just really consistent. That's all I've been working on this off-season just to hit as many greens just to try to minimise those big mistakes."

Her older sister Jessica, 25, last week's winner in Thailand, shot 70 and was two shots back on 138.

Alex, who is making her 103rd LPGA start, matched Kang's tally of eight birdies - she had four in a row on the back nine - but felt her game still needed work.

The 28-year-old American added: "The ball-striking wasn't as good as I'd have liked it to be, but the putter is rolling all right. Just got to tidy up some of the other stuff."

The top-ranked Feng Shanshan shot another 70 and was tied-15th and eight back on 140 while former world No. 1 Lydia Ko also had back-to-back 71s and was tied-27th.

Defending champion Park, making her first LPGA start since last August's British Open, shot 70 and was tied-36th on 143.

Overnight leader Jennifer Song, who opened with a 65, saw her good work undone when she dropped five shots in her opening three holes.

She eventually signed for a 75 and was tied-15th on 140.

HSBC WOMEN'S WORLD C'SHIP
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SEE ALSO: The education of Feng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2018, with the headline 'Kang's moment of tooth'. Print Edition | Subscribe