Auto-matic: Kang can't stop winning cars

By Jason SobelNovember 2, 2014, 1:25 pm

There's a scene in the classic film "Vegas Vacation" (and no, that description isn't debatable) where Rusty Griswold – a C+ student, as his own mother calls him - explains his penchant for winning cars through slot machines while moonlighting as mover-and-shaker Nick Papagiorgio.

“I put a dollar in, I won a car; I put a dollar in, I won a car; I put a dollar in, I won a car; I put a dollar in, I won a car.” 

Danielle Kang knows the feeling – sort of.

A resident of the city which yielded all of those vehicles to the fictional “Mr. Papagiorgio,” she traveled halfway around the world to find similar recent fortune.

At last week’s Blue Bay LPGA event on Hainan Island in China, she holed an 8-iron from 151 yards in the opening round for an ace. Eight days later, at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, she repeated the feat with a 7-iron from 156 yards. Each came on the course’s 17th hole, each using a TaylorMade ball marked with the number 17.

Officials at the National Hole in One Registry estimate the odds of aces in back-to-back events at roughly 350,000-to-1, but even that news buries the lede.

The real story here is that with two swings, Kang earned two cars – a Buick LaCrosse with the first one and an Audi A6 T2.0 with the second.

“To be ‘that golfer who keeps winning all the cars’ just feels blessed,” the 22-year-old said in an email interview with

Others would use, well, different words. Playing partner and friend Lizette Salas joked that she was upset because the latter ace forced her to twice back off her own subsequent tee shot. Another player, Hillary Packard, kiddingly threatened to revoke her friendship over jealousy. And Kang’s own Uncle Howie asked, “Who has a problem winning two cars and struggling to find them a home?”

Now he has an answer.

Kang’s home in Vegas only has a one-car garage, which currently holds her Porsche Cayenne. Time to break out that “first world problems” hashtag.

“I don't have a place for all the cars,” she explained. “My mom has a three-car garage, so I'll store my ‘old’ cars there.”

Before you start envisioning Kang with a fleet of automobiles affixed with fitting vanity plates like “ACE1” and “ACE2” the facts get in the way of what would be a good story.

She’s already decided to take the equivalent monetary value for the Buick and will gift the Audi to her brother, Alex, who was with her in Taiwan, but left Friday morning before the hole-in-one.

As if the story of aces to win cars in consecutive tournaments isn’t impressive enough, Kang adds this disclaimer, which was running through her mind while standing on the teebox prior to the most recent hole-in-one.

“For some weird reason, I had this gut feeling that I may make another one,” she insisted. “When I saw the ball land and kick toward the hole, I thought, ‘Wow, this actually is going to happen!’”

For the rest of the golf world who’d like to card an ace every week or so, she offered up a little insight into the secret.

“I live by what I see and what I feel ,” she explained. “I think that's the secret to holes-in-one. First you have to imagine it going in before hitting the shot, and then trust your feelings.”

Kang will readily admit to having some divine inspiration for these shots, as well.

Last November, her father, K.S., passed away after battling brain and lung cancer. She feels like the man who caddied for her as an amateur is still keeping a close eye on her performances.

“For this to happen to me,” she said, “I know my dad is up there in heaven watching after me.”

Now in her third full season on the LPGA, the world’s 104th-ranked player is still seeking her first victory. But even when offered the loaded question of whether she’d trade the aces and the cars for a win, she wouldn’t budge.

“I won't look back and ‘trade’ anything for better, because everything happens for a reason,” she said. “Trading my aces and the cars for one win is completely unequal. This is something that won't just happen to anyone. I'm very thankful to be that someone.”

With two recent swings, Kang has earned acclaim, she’s earned publicity and – as if we could ever forget – she’s earned a couple of cars. Or at least the monetary equivalent thereof.

Maybe she’ll earn a nickname, too. It could be Ace. Or Auto-matic. Or hey, maybe they’ll just call her Ms. Papagiorgio.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.