Kang ready to defend Women's PGA Championship

  • Danielle Kang prepares to putt on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Shoal Creek, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala.

    Danielle Kang prepares to putt on the sixth hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Shoal Creek, Friday, June 1, 2018, in Birmingham, Ala.

  • Danielle Kang watches a tee shot during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic golf tournament at Blythefield County Club near Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

    Danielle Kang watches a tee shot during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic golf tournament at Blythefield County Club near Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday, June 14, 2018. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

 
 
Updated 6/27/2018 11:10 AM

The champion will defend at this week's 64th KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes.

There was some doubt about that when Danielle Kang pulled out after 11 holes at the Meijer Classic in Michigan two weeks ago, citing only "personal reasons."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Last week Kang didn't seem ready for a major title defense either. She was 1-over after two rounds of the Walmart Southwest Arkansas Classic and missed the cut.

Kang explained herself Tuesday after completing her pro-am round on the Kildeer course that previously hosted the men's PGA Championship in 1989. She basically was just "worn out" after a fourth-place finish in the U.S. Women's Open three weeks ago.

"I pulled a muscle briefly, so I wasn't feeling that great at the start of that week," Kang said of the WD during the first round in Michigan. "I didn't want to say that because I just wanted to come back to being 100 percent before I told people that I have not been feeling well.

"The U.S. Open is so emotional, and I'm so dramatic."

Kang said the muscle pull came when she hit a shot out of the rough in Michigan. She tried to play through the discomfort but quickly decided "there was no point. I would rather just rest and give my body a break."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

So that's what she did, and that apparently did the trick.

"I'm good now. I just needed to sleep," Kang said. "I hibernated. After I WD-ed I slept 18 hours, 20 hours and 11 hours. I only got up to eat one meal a day. I was so tired. I don't know why."

Her play in Tuesday's rain-hampered pro-am suggests the recovery is complete. She led her team to a 15-under-par 57, which was the best score in the morning wave. Thunderstorms delayed play in both the morning and afternoon.

Kang, winner of back-to-back U.S. Amateurs in 2010 and 2011, held off Canadian Brooke Henderson last year to win her first LPGA tournament at Olympia Fields -- and it was one of the circuit's five majors, no less.

Henderson, on the other hand, has been great in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. She tied for fifth after getting a sponsor's exemption in 2015, became the youngest player (at 18) to win the title in 2016 and lost by 1 stroke to Kang last year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It hasn't been smooth sailing for Henderson this year, either. She was a late withdrawal from the U.S. Women's Open after the death of her grandfather, finished way down in a tie for 44th place in Michigan and didn't play in the Southwest Arkansas Classic.

She did, however, score a repeat win in a two-day team event -- the CVS Health Charity Classic, which included some PGA Tour players. It ended Monday.

"Last week was a bit different," Henderson said. "I took a week off and was able to rest a couple days.

"The CVS Health Charity Classic was a lot of fun. It's exciting to play against the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and the best on the LPGA Tour. It's always a fun challenge."

Her pro-am pairing Tuesday also was fun. She took her first look at Kemper Lakes in the company of Scott Ozanus, chairman of KPMG's America region; KPMG ambassador Condoleezza Rice and Aramark president Eric Foss.

"The golf course is incredible," Henderson said. "It's beautiful. It's quite wet, but it's in really good condition. It'll set up for a very challenging and fun week for all of us."

Players will get their last pretournament look at the 6,741-yard par-72 course in Wednesday's practice rounds. Feature event on site will be the KPMG Women's Leadership Summit. Keynote speakers are Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state, KPMG chairman and chief executive officer Lynne Doughtie and retired U.S. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard.

Three Olympians -- figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Maia Shibutani and hockey player Hilary Knight -- also will be featured in a panel discussion.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.