ORLANDO, Fla. – Danielle Kang hates the cold. Want proof? Just look at her Women’s Open record: 11 starts, six missed cuts, zero top-25s.
So, she wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Saturday’s forecast, which called for highs in upper 50s along with wet and breezy conditions for the third round of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.
“I don't perform quite well in the cold,” Kang said.
Kang, wearing rain pants and an Adidas hoodie, bucked that trend on Saturday, firing a bogey-free, 3-under 69 – a shot off the low round of the day – on a difficult Lake Nona layout to enter Sunday just a shot back of Nelly Korda, who leads at 13 under. (Kang has made just one bogey in 54 holes.)
“Really proud of myself shooting in the 60s in the cold weather, and windy, as well,” Kang said. “Gave myself really good opportunities. Even on the last hole, I had a 5-wood into the green, so I can't really be like, ‘Oh, one more birdie.’ I go, ‘Well, I have a 5-wood and there's water, so got to do the best I can.’” She made a good par.
Kang was spotted doing jumping jacks throughout her round. An effort to keep warm, Kang said, though her body still froze up during long waits, including before the final tee shot, where she left herself 185 yards in on the 395-yard hole.
That’s a 210-yard drive for a player who averaged 252.91 yards off the tee last season.
“I don't swing as fast as a lot of the girls out here, so if I'm tightened up my swing speed drops way below 95 [mph] and I'm probably hitting it 220 [yards],” Kang explained. “I mean, it's something that I have to really consider, and to be mindful of my physicality on what I'm capable and when to execute the next following shot.”
Kang earlier in the week shared her mindset entering the new season, which follows a winless 2021 campaign. She talked about focusing on her body and processes over simply results while also striving to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. That included embracing cooler days, so during the offseason she forced herself out on the coldest mornings in Las Vegas.
While tour pros are known to do product testing during their breaks, Kang was doing layer testing in 40-degree temps and 30-mph winds.
“It's being able to try and swing with how many layers I have on,” Kang said. “What's the max? What I'm capable and not capable of doing. There are certain shots I can't do, shots I can't hit during the cold weather, and I just take them out of my arsenal. Those are the things I have to figure out.”
As she prepares for another blustery day in usually sunny Orlando, Kang’s love-hate relationship with the cold is still a work in progress. “But I'm proud of how far I have come to be able to swing and perform and be consistent,” she said, “instead of just succumb to the weather.”
She’ll get the opportunity Sunday to figure out just how many layers she can win with.