While the LPGA Tour’s newest star, Danielle Kang, has only lived in Las Vegas for about three years, the city has quickly become a part of her heart.
This past Sunday, Kang shot 13-under par and won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Illinois. The win doubled as her first career LPGA Tour victory and first major championship.
During the final round, Kang hit the par-5, 18th green in two shots and needed only two putts to earn a one-stroke victory over Brooke M. Henderson. When she made that final birdie, Kang joined Inbee Park as the only Las Vegas residents to have won a major title.
Both Kang and Park are members at TPC Summerlin, the host course of the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Other members include PGA Tour players Scott Piercy and Ryan Moore, who Kang has practiced with during off weeks.
“The weather is really nice out here, and the golf course has a separate range area for tour pros only and practice chipping and putting greens,” Kang said recently. “A lot of tour players enjoy Las Vegas because of how simple the lifestyle is. I really like it here.”
TPC Summerlin head professional Mike Messner has watched first hand as Kang prepared herself to win on the LPGA Tour.
“Danielle is a grinder and works very hard,” Messner said. “She has put in a lot of time during the season and also during the offseason. Off the course, she has a big and great personality.”
As is tradition when any member wins a tour event, the club hangs a congratulatory banner at the front gate. Kang’s was scheduled to go up Thursday afternoon.
Kang also plays and practices at the course with her brother, Alex, who is on the Web.com Tour. Alex is a sounding board for Danielle and helped her with strategy prior to and during the KPMG tournament.
“Alex is the one that I called to help map out the golf course,” Kang told reporters after her win. “He’s one of the people that I lean on for everything.”
Kang, 24, grew up in Southern California and turned professional in 2011 following her second-straight U.S. Women’s Amateur victory. Her father, K.S., caddied for her in those tournaments, but died of brain cancer in 2013. Sister and brother also leaned on each other during that difficult time.
“I think that it’s been a really difficult road for me for the past four or five years, but it’s life, though,” Kang said. “You have to pick yourself up and you have to keep working hard at it, and then believe in what you’re doing, and not let yourself down.
“If I could wish anything, I would wish that my dad saw me win.”
In the hours following her victory, she was congratulated by many fellow pros including Michele Wie, who Kang calls her “sister.” She also received countless texts from family and friends including Alex, who urged her to get to Las Vegas as soon as possible to celebrate.
Also texting Kang were actor/comedian Jon Lovitz, hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky, former NFL great Marcus Allen and PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson, among others. She met them while playing and practicing at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.
Once Kang returned home, she celebrated in true Vegas style by partying at Jewel Nightclub at the Aria. She was captured on social media in the booth with resident DJ Steve Aoki and other friends enjoying the Vegas nightlife.
Kang is next scheduled to play July 13-16 at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Brian Hurlburt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider on Twitter.