Danielle Kang (back) testing out game at Match Play, prepping for majors
Despite being second in the LPGA’s Race to the CME Globe standings, it’s been “tough” for Danielle Kang lately.
After failing to notch a win in 2021, Kang rang in the new year by winning the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions. She then posted a runner-up the very next week and followed that up with consecutive top-10 finishes.
Since then, the world No. 11’s past five events haven’t been as shiny. Her best finish was a T-17 at the Chevron Championship, and she withdrew after Round 1 in two of her last three tournaments due to an ailing back, Kang revealed Tuesday.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of specialists,” Kang said at Shadow Creek, the site of this week’s Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play. “Been some issues in my back that the details — I’ve never really been very honest about my injuries necessarily. Talked openly about mental health and things like that.”
Kang saw a specialist as recently as Monday and wasn’t in “any shape or form to come out on the golf course yesterday, but [Tuesday] was much better.”
The 29-year-old has dealt with back issues before, which has helped her stay positive during her most recent setback. Kang said she’s taken 12 Advils during rounds in the past “just to play,” and even did so when she won in Shanghai a few years ago.
If Shadow Creek wasn’t Kang’s home course, she “probably” wouldn’t be playing this week. However, she had this tournament circled on her calendar for weeks and decided to give it an attempt.
“I’m actually mentally in a really good place because I’ve taken time, got my team, especially in Vegas,” she said. “Whether I play well or not, I just want to try. That was my goal four weeks ago when I WDed out of everything, is to have the opportunity to play, instead of feeling like I did at (the DIO Implant LA Open) and (the Palos Verdes Championship) and (the Lotte Championship in Hawaii), just pushing through to accomplish what really?”
Kang hopes this week will provide clarity on where her game stands as she looks ahead to the upcoming major championships and then the season’s home stretch.
“It’s not just about this week,” she said. “I’m just trying to somehow get ready for the [U.S. Women’s Open] as well. The preparation hasn’t been the way I wanted it to be, but doing the best that I can off the golf course, and see how the rest of the year goes.”