Red-hot Danielle Kang wants to claim California major win at ANA Inspiration

Danielle Kang is a major championship winner and a Californian born and raised. Winning a major in California might be the next step in (...)

Red-hot Danielle Kang wants to claim California major win at ANA Inspiration

Danielle Kang is a major championship winner and a Californian born and raised. Winning a major in California might be the next step in Kang’s LPGA career, a career that already is on the fast track to stardom.

“It’s a major you definitely want to win, especially in California,” Kang said as she prepared for this week’s ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. “I’m from California, so I think it would be really awesome to be able to win in this state. Last year, I came close. It wasn’t the final round that I wanted, but I think having another opportunity this year is going to be really interesting.”

Kang’s sixth-place finish in the 2019 ANA Inspiration, where she finished six shots behind winner Jin Young Ko, was her best performance in eight starts at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course. Three of those starts have ended with missed cuts on a course that Kang says she is still learning about from one start to the next.

“Year in and year out, you come here and you expect it to be the way it is, and it actually even exceeds your expectations when you come,” Kang said. “I get surprised every time I come up here.”

ANA Inspiration: TV info, Skins match details

These days, it is LPGA fans who are excited to see Kang show up at the golf course. Since the LPGA restarted its tour in July, Kang has dominated play. She won the first two events of the restart in Ohio and finished fifth at the Ladies Scottish Open.

Not only is Kang now the leading money winner on the tour with $643,933, but she is also No. 1 in the Race to the CME Globe year-long chase. She has moved to a career-high second on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings behind Jin Young Ko, the defending champion who is not at the ANA Inspiration this week because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Kang’s hot streak in the restart gives her five career LPGA wins, including a major at the 2017 KMPG Women’s PGA Championship. That might sound like Kang is firmly established as the favorite at Mission Hills this week. But rather than thinking about winning, Kang is thinking about the same things she thinks about every week she shows up at a tournament.

“What I normally do when I get to a tournament, kind of figuring out the green speed, the conditions around the greens and how it’s going to play is the most important,” Kang said. “I played nine holes earlier this (week), and they tightened up the fairways even more than they normally do, I’ve noticed, and around the greens, if the ball just rolls over the green or just short, it gets into a little bit of a funky lie.”

playing on Bermuda grass with thick, heavy rough rather than the rye grass of a spring visit to the desert.

“It’s playing way different than I expected,” Kang said. “I didn’t know that the golf course could change from April to September that differently, but I’m really excited to see what kind of golf course and what kind of game is going to be shown this entire week.”

Kang admits it will be strange playing a California tournament without her legion of family and friends who have followed her from her days on the Southern California PGA junior tour to Pepperdine University for two years to her consecutive wins in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. But with COVID-19 restrictions meaning no spectators at Mission Hills this week, Kang said she and the rest of the players have no choice but to focus on the game and not the atmosphere.

“I can just do the best I can and play for them, and I’m really excited to play in California for the first time this year and just be able to perform for them whether they’re at home watching or not,” Kang said. “(I’m) really excited to just kind of have the opportunity to play well and give myself the best opportunity.”

Larry Bohannan is The Desert Sun golf writer, part of the USA today network. He can be reached at (760) 778-4633 or Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at Sun.@Larry_Bohannan. Support local journalism: Subscribe to the Desert Sun.

Source : Golf Week More   

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Struggling Sergio Garcia comes to Safeway Open in search of 'good mojo'

NAPA, Calif. – Sergio Garcia took his wife, Angela, to Theorem Vineyards in nearby Calistoga on Tuesday and planned to hit up a (...)

Struggling Sergio Garcia comes to Safeway Open in search of 'good mojo'

NAPA, Calif. – Sergio Garcia took his wife, Angela, to Theorem Vineyards in nearby Calistoga on Tuesday and planned to hit up a couple more wineries ahead of the opening round of the Safeway Open on Thursday. It’s what you do here, but make no mistake about it: this is a business trip for the 40-year-old Spaniard who missed the FedEx Cup Playoffs for just the second time in his career.

Sure, Garcia was motivated to make his first appearance at Silverado Resort and Spa, the kickoff event of the PGA Tour’s 2020-21 season, but he also was anxious to continue the quest to rediscover his game, which has been missing in action practically since the crowning moment of his career, when he won the Masters in 2017. It’s hard to fathom but Garcia has recorded just one top-10 finish in his last 18 Tour starts and is winless on Tour since donning the Green Jacket.

He’s here, in part, because his season ended prematurely after the Wyndham Championship, leaving Garcia three weeks to spend with daughter, Azalea, and son, Enzo, play some tennis and decompress. But now he’s recommitted to bringing his best to a season unlike any other, with six majors, a Ryder Cup, and 50 Tour events in all. He would like to jump-start his season this week.

Safeway Open: Odds and best bets | Tee times, TV

“It definitely would be nice to get some good mojo,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference. “I feel like my game, it feels pretty good. It’s just a matter of kind of getting things going in the right direction, getting the ball rolling nicely and kind of riding that good wave.”

Garcia, who has tumbled to No. 44 in the Official World Golf Ranking as well as the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, is way too talented to struggle for too long. To what does he blame his on-course funk?

“Well, it’s quite simple,” he said. “The last couple of years some of my decisions when it comes down to equipment and stuff like that didn’t help me. Obviously took some of my confidence away. This year has been trying to find myself back a little bit, trying to find my feelings, my good feelings that I had in the past. I feel like I’m starting to get there, I feel like I’ve been playing much better, I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball much better. I just need to tweak a couple little things here and there and just get some good confidence going, some good things happening and then I feel like I can start doing some beautiful things again, which I’ve done pretty much my whole career.”

Nicholas Gross, participant in the boys 10-11, shakes hands with Sergio Garcia in 2018. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Garcia has experienced the occasional lapse in performance before and emerged the better player for it. As for his very un-Garcia-like performance of late, 50-year-old Tour sage Jim Furyk, one of the Tour’s steadiest players of the last two decades, called it “surprising,” but said it happens to even the best of them.

“I think that everyone goes through periods — even think about like Jack Nicklaus, pretty much the greatest player of all time, went through some periods of his career where he struggled. When I say periods, I’m not talking like a month or two. He had a year where he struggled and maybe, you know, put his nose to the grindstone, went back to visit his teacher, started throwing some extra effort in. Eventually, when you do that, you keep working at it and you keep grinding, things come around,” Furyk said. “Sometimes the truth hurts. You want to overlook maybe the weaknesses, what’s ailing you, but really going to work on getting back to basics, going to work on the parts of your game that are struggling. Sometimes just being real honest with yourself, why am I not playing as well? I know everyone goes through that and I know that he’ll come out of it.”

A good week at the Safeway Open could be just what Garcia needs to turn the corner and be ready for next week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, and so he is here for more than just the red wine and some world-class meals with his wife. Garcia still has his eye on the biggest prizes in golf.

“I didn’t want to go into the U.S. Open without playing for four weeks,” he said. “So, at least get a little bit of competition energy going, competition like fluids coming into your body, you know … hopefully some good feelings, playing well and get some good confidence going into Winged Foot.”

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