Danielle Kang burned for more chances to win after breaking through to win last year.
She devoted herself to a boot-camp-style offseason to get stronger and better in a bid to add to her first LPGA title, a major championship claimed in Chicago last summer at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
With a course record-tying 8-under-par 64 Friday in Singapore, Kang took control at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. She is bogey free through 36 holes, with her 12 under total four shots clear of Nelly Korda (66), who is looking to add to LPGA history.
Korda, 19, is looking to win her first LPGA title a week after her older sister, Jessica, won in Thailand. They are looking to become just the second set of sisters to both win on the LPGA.
Annika Sorenstam and sister Charlotta won. They did so in back-to-back weeks in 2000.
Jessica (70) is six shots off the lead in Singapore.
“She does make me want to be a better player,” Nelly said. “Seeing her win last week, after the tough offseason she's had, was definitely very inspiring. Hopefully, I can step my game up this week and take it home, but we'll see.”
Jessica won in Thailand in her first start after undergoing a complex and painful offseason surgery to repair the alignment of her jaw, which was causing her serious headaches.
Kang kept climbing the leaderboard Friday despite a broken tooth, a molar she doesn’t know how she chipped before the first round, but suspects it may have happened while eating, and she didn’t notice it until it came loose later.
“It’s OK,” Kang said. “I just don't chew on that side. But it's jagged, so it's kind of like rubbing my side. So, every time I hit, I'm like ... What is that?”
After breaking through to win last year, Kang put on nine pounds of muscle in the offseason, training with Brian Chandler back in her Las Vegas home. She wanted to change the shape of her body to better support the swing changes she has been working on with her coach, David Leadbetter.
It’s paying quick dividends this season.
“My body is feeling good, swing is feeling great, and as long as my body can keep up with the speed of the swing, so I don't feel like the club is swinging me, that was my goal,” she said.
Kang, 25, won back-to-back U.S. Women’s Amateurs but was frustrated trying to win on the LPGA, until her breakthrough last year.
“I felt relief, just a weight off my shoulders,” Kang said. “I finally just got that first win over with, and plus, it's always nice to win. I got a taste of it, and I want more of it. I said that earlier.”
Winning brought Kang perspective.
“If anything, I'm actually quite more relaxed,” she said. “I was super uptight before then and a little less now and just kind of enjoying the game and enjoying the process more so than anything.”