Kang trying to turn valuable advice into a major win

By Randall MellJuly 2, 2017, 12:01 am

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Danielle Kang mingles with a lot of star power.

She is friends with NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, with PGA Tour world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, and with Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medal decathlete. She is pals with Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie.

Kang grew up in Southern California, played golf at Pepperdine in Malibu and with celebs at some of the elite clubs around Los Angeles. She doesn’t have to reach out to her famous friends for encouragement, advice or inspiration.

She just turns on her cell phone, and it’s there.

As it was when she woke up Saturday as the co-leader of the third round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

“Wayne texted me this morning,” Kang said. “It was pretty cool.”

That’s Wayne, as in “The Great One,” the greatest scorer in NHL history, the winner of four Stanley Cups.

Gretzy boiled down Kang’s challenge this weekend at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship to its simplest form.

“He said, 'Just go win it,'” Kang said. “I was like, 'It’s the third round.' ... And he’s like, 'Just go get it done.'”

Jenner called her, too.

So did Hollis Stacy, the World Golf Hall of Famer and four-time major champion.

“I have a lot of people just beyond that, just calling me up and encouraging me to keep playing my game, rooting for me,” Kang said. “I love it.”

KPMG Women’s PGA Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Come Sunday, Kang’s own star could rise in women’s golf.

With a 3-under-par 68 Saturday, Kang continues to hold a share of the lead going into the final round. At 10-under, she’s atop the leaderboard with Chella Choi (67), two shots ahead of former world No. 1 Jiyai Shin (64) and three ahead of Brooke Henderson (69), the defending champion.

Kang, 24, is looking to break through in a big way in her sixth season on tour. The former two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur is looking to make her first LPGA title a major.

“It would be incredible to be called a major champion, especially out on this tour,” Kang said.

But the challenge for Kang has never been motivation. In fact, the people closest to her know she’s probably wanted this breakthrough too much.

“Patience is a word I use a lot with Danielle,” said David Leadbetter, Kang’s coach. “Sometimes, she tries too hard. She fights with herself, and she is so hard on herself. She’s been too desperate to win.”

Kang confessed she has been frustrated and down in the past about her inability to follow up her two U.S. Women’s Amateur victories with an LPGA title.

But she’s listening to all these people preaching patience.

Kang says she isn’t obsessing over winning anymore. She’s focused on the work, instead, on improving her skills and not beating herself up so much over the results.

She was asked what change in her approach has most led her to Sunday’s opportunity in surburban Chicago.

“If I have to pinpoint, it would be changing an attitude, that winning is not everything,” Kang said. “That’s the change.”

No matter what happens Sunday, Kang is already enjoying her best year on tour. She has four top-10 finishes this year, more than in any of her previous five seasons on tour. She has earned her first lead or co-lead in the final round of a major. She is playing in the final group in the final round of a major for the first time.

These are all giant steps for her.

A year ago, Kang suffered through a left wrist fracture, bulging discs in her neck and eye surgery. There has been a lot of work giving herself this Sunday chance.

There’s been a lot of fight getting this chance, too.

“She probably argues with me more than any student I have,” Leadbetter said. “She questions me more than anyone.”

Leadbetter likes what he sees behind the grilling he gets from Kang.

“She has no fear,” Leadbetter said.

That can’t hurt her going into her first final Sunday pairing in a major.

Getty Images

Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

Getty Images

Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

Getty Images

Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

Getty Images

Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”