Family's support helps Khang succeed

By Randall MellJanuary 30, 2016, 3:07 am

Megan Khang’s father marveled over his daughter’s ability to make the most of opportunities growing up because even as a promising junior she understood the hardship that limited the chances her family could give her.

Lee Khang is marveling again this weekend with his 18-year-old daughter atop the leaderboard halfway through her first start as an LPGA rookie.

Megan’s 5-under-par 68 in Friday’s heavy winds left her tied for the lead with Charley Hull and Haru Nomura at 8-under overall at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic on Paradise Island.

Lee is the only teacher his daughter has ever known, and he is her caddie, too. He would be toting her bag again this week in the Bahamas, but his aunt died and there was a funeral back in Massachusetts, where the Khangs make their home. So Lee stayed home. Truth be told, Lee said, he wasn’t penciled in to fly to the Bahamas anyway. The family couldn’t afford it.

Lee, 48, is a freelance golf instructor who works mostly public ranges and courses in Rockland, Mass. Megan’s mother, Nou, is a kindergarten teacher. They’re both Hmong and came to the United States from Laos separately when they were children. They met sometime after high school and married.

Growing up, Megan didn’t play the AJGA circuit except for a few select events. The family didn’t have the money for all the travel, but she made the most of USGA, PGA and regional qualifiers. She was the eighth-ranked amateur in the world last month when she turned pro a week before LPGA Q-School. She was the low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open last summer.

“We’re a family of three,” Megan told “I’m an only child. It’s the three of us against the world. That’s kind of how I look at it.”

Lee’s business card reads: “Traveling Golf Professional – I’ll come to you.” He is teaching mostly juniors this winter at Bosse’s Sports Complex, an indoor facility in Sudbury, Mass. Lee didn’t pick up a golf club until he was 32, when his brother invited him to hit balls on a range. He instantly fell in the love with the game.

“I came home and told my wife I was going to quit playing other sports,” Lee told “I told her, this game looks easy, but it’s really hard, but I’m going to learn how to play if it kills me.”

Lee says he has never had a single golf lesson. He learned at the beginning by devouring Golf Digest, always flipping to the back pages first.

“I’d go right to the `How to break 90’ and `How to break 80' sections,’” Lee said. “I watched a lot of lessons on YouTube, too. There are a lot of different ways to play the game. I learned a lot by trial and error.”

After Megan was born, Nou told Lee he couldn’t be playing so much golf anymore. He had a little girl he needed to help raise. Lee solved that problem. He started taking Megan to the course with him when she was 5. He’s the only coach she has ever had.

“Everything she’s learned, I’ve learned,” Lee said.

Lee’s proudest moment as a teacher was what happened when his daughter qualified for a spot in the Winn Grip Junior Cup Challenge in Las Vegas when Megan was 16. Butch Harmon coached Kang’s East squad, Natalie Gulbis the West. As part of the event, Megan got to visit Harmon’s school at Rio Secco Golf Club. She even got a 10-minute lesson from Harmon.

“Butch asked her who taught her how to swing the club,” Lee said. “She said, `My dad.’ Butch said, `Don’t ever change your swing.’”

Lee loved that.

Lee also loves seeing Megan get off to a fast start in the Bahamas. So does Megan’s mother.

“Nou is online constantly, checking scores,” Lee said. “It’s kind of hard on her not being there. She gets so nervous.”

Lee and Nou aren’t surprised Megan’s off to such a good start. Megan has always had a way of taking advantage of opportunities.

“We didn’t have the resources a lot of golf families had, and even as a child Megan knew that,” Lee said. “I think understanding the situation, that traveling to big tournaments was difficult, she worked harder to take advantage of opportunities when she got them. She worked hard to do her best.”

Megan doesn’t have any endorsement deals, yet. A family friend’s working as her manager. A good start will go a long way to financing the rest of Megan’s trips and her father’s return to the bag as caddie. He’s planning to tote the bag at the Coates Golf Championship next week. With a really big week in the Bahamas, Megan’s mom might not have to check scores online in future events. She might make a few trips, too.

“We had a good chat with Megan last night,” Lee said. “Megan knows to be patient, not to force things, to let the game come to her.”

It’s a formula that’s working great so far for the Khangs.

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”