U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Interview With Champion Danielle Kang August 14, 2010 By USGA

            BETH MURRISON:  We are very happy to have with us the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur Champion, Danielle Kang.  Can you kind of give your feelings about how it sounds to have the Women's Amateur Champion in front of your name?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Well, it's so awesome.  I don't know, but it's like I even told myself I don't understand why people cry when they win stuff, but now I do.  You're just so happy like you did it.  It was relieving at the same time I accomplished it, so it's great.   

            Q.  I was talking to your host family, the father after the ceremony.  He was saying last night you were not nervous at all.  You were just relaxed.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, what did I do last night? 

            Q.  He said you went for Korean food last night?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, we went for Korean food.  He loves Korean food.  So we went to eat, and Adele his daughter kept asking, Are you nervous, Are you nervous?  And I was like, No, not really, you know. The reason is because I don't pretend that I'm playing in a match.  I just keep telling myself I'm playing golf out there, and my dad keeps putting that in my head.  You're just playing with me.  You're playing with me.  Nothing's important.  I made it to the finals, so no matter what happens, I came all the way here.  I'm just going to have fun like I did the last few days.

            Q.  How were your dad's nerves last night?

            DANIELLE KANG:  We were both a little sensitive though.  Just little things like would upset me.  So it wasn't nerves, it was like let me be kind of thing because it was a big day tomorrow.  It was unconsciously there. I think he was pretty nervous.  This morning he was so energetic in the morning.  I was like, Dad, what are you doing?  But he was ready to go and he was all pumped up.  Yeah, he just brought my energy up.

            Q.  How important was it for you to get out ‑‑ you got off to a hot start with the three birdies in the first four holes.  How important was that to getting your mind focused on the task at hand?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Well, people kept saying my putting's not working all these days, and I didn't let that bother me because I know I'm a good putter. So I talked to my putting Coach Tony last night and I talked to Coach Brady.  And Brady was saying don't worry about it.  Doesn't matter.  We know you're a good putter. And Tony was watching my routine and said don't be so fast there, like slow everything down.  So if you notice today, I was a little slow.  I felt bad, but not too bad. Yeah, I slowed everything one tempo down.  But the second round I started getting a little faster, and I realized when she was one up, it kind of hit me when he announced it.  So I slowed everything down again.

            Q.  Who are your coaches?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Brady for swing.  Tony for putting.

            Q.  What are the rest of their names?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Oh, Brady Riggs, Tony Kewal.

            Q.  He works with Sydnee [Michaels], correct?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yes, and I go to Jay Brunza for mental, so everybody.

            Q.  You've got a lot going on.  How long have you worked with Tony and Brady?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Tony for a couple of years now.  Two years, I believe, and Brady this year.  I used to go to Kevin, and he kind of moved further away and Brady was closer.  You know, he helped me out a lot.  It wasn't that, just Brady had more things to teach me.  And the last two years he's gotten me through Medalist, Medalist, and you know Open and everything else, so I really appreciate that.  He always takes my calls.  Even if he's at dinner he'll be like, What's up, because he knows I'm panicking.

            Q.  That said, you were playing very, very well, and then there was a stretch there where things kind of went a little awry and you did go down.  Aside from slowing things down, did you ever feel you were going to get panicked or nervous at that point in time?

            DANIELLE KANG:  To be honest, I really actually panicked ‑‑ well, I kept missing putts on the front.  Couple holes on the front nine.  Then when I three‑putted five I was a little down, then she three‑putted again.  Then I just chunked everything, I think. But the way she went up, it didn't bother me when I was hitting it when I lost my shots.  I was like did I chunk it and that kind of stuff?  But when they announced Korda was one up, I was like, Oh, my gosh, she's one up.  And then I started panicking. And my dad was like it's fine, it's fine.  You've got so many more holes to go and I'm yelling at him, and I'm getting all frustrated.  He said why are you worried about her right now?  You don't care about other players.  Why are you worried that she's beating you?  We've got nine holes to go.  Can you do that?  Just play nine holes.  Play her just stroke play.  I kept the score in my mind playing stroke play.  And I said I can beat her stroke play I think.  I can do that.  So he said then do that.  That's all that matters. So I made putt on 10.  That was a good putt and 11 up‑and‑down.  I kept hitting it a little harder and a little harder.  And my dad told me you're getting harder and harder as you go on.  So I said, okay, and I started hitting it softer, and that's how I made the 17th hole.  He told me to play as I usually do.

            Q.  On 16 when she pulls it into the bunker, what is going through your mind?  There is an opportunity.  She hadn't missed a green the whole afternoon until then.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, she hit it left, I didn't know she was in the bunker, but I knew she had a chip and she short‑sided herself.  So I told my dad, middle of the green.  That's all I need to do. No offense, but I was sure she couldn't make it up‑and‑down from there unless it was a really good up‑and‑down.  If she does, that's fine.  But I'm going to make par, and I hit it by five feet again.  And my dad's like stop hitting it so far. But five footers are okay for me now.  I've had so many comebacks that are like six feet, five feet.  I'm used to it.  But, yeah, when she made bogey, I didn't make that five footer to come back.  And the 17th hole I knew it was my turn to make a birdie there.

            Q.  Did you think she was going to make hers?  Were you surprised?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Did I think she was going to make hers?  No.  I actually thought she wasn't going to make it just because everything that led on to today, every one of my competitors made birdie on 17.  They're draining 40 footers.  I never make a birdie there, so it was all flipped around today.  My putting was working, my ball striking was working.  When I had the birdie putt, one of us wasn't to make it.  That's what I was thinking.  When she missed it, it was like okay, my turn to make it now.  The 17th hole was my turn.

            Q.  What club did you use?

            DANIELLE KANG:  8.  It was a soft 8.  I was short first round, but it was downwind, and I just went at it.

            Q.  Were you surprised to have won at all?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Was I surprised?  No, because I've worked so hard, and I go to all the tournaments.  It's like not surprise, it's exciting.  You know I finally have done ‑‑ I've finally accomplished this kind of thing.  It's like one down, and hundreds more to come.  So it's not surprising, it's basically I did it.

            Q.  Do you feel relieved?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Well today was very stressful.  When I made that I just wanted to cry because all of the stress was in me.  I'm trying not to show it.  I'm smiling, but it's stressful, so it was really big. I came all the way here, and every tournament you can't really say you're surprised that you won.  It's like I've worked hard to get here.

            Q.  You said Oakmont was a huge learning curve for you, but how crucial is Medalist as a Junior and the Canadian Am as a lead‑up?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, Oakmont led me to the U.S. Junior.  Then when I medaled at the U.S. Junior, I was like you know I always put myself down.  I kept saying I can't putt, I can't do this ‑‑ I was really negative.  After Oakmont and the U.S. Junior I was like I'm actually not that bad a player.  I'm not that bad.  I don't know why I keep telling myself I'm bad, you know, and then it ends up bad on the golf course. I tell myself I can't hit high shots and I won't hit a high shot.  Now I tell myself ‑‑ like my putt on 10 ‑‑ I'm like, I'm going to make this putt.  I'm going to make this putt.  I just walked down, kept repeating that and I made it. I just kept repeating I'm the best player.  I'm the best putter. 

            Q.  Did they tell you to do that?

            DANIELLE KANG:  He hates when I say I can't.  And Tony can't stand how I used to talk about my putting.  But it's all fixed.  It's good.

            Q.  Does a Women's Amateur title change anything in the immediate future for you?

            DANIELLE KANG:  No.  Well, getting to do the Women's Amateur team thing.  What is that to be honest?  I didn't even know that it was a major to be honest.

            Q.  Are you kidding?  The U.S. Women's Open?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Well, I made it.  In 2007 I made it, and I thought it was just a tournament my brother signed me up for.  And they're like how do you feel making the U.S. Open?  I'm like, cool, I guess. I had no idea about golf.  I didn't even know anybody on the LPGA Tour.  I started golfing when I was 12.  The only person I knew was Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam.

            Q.  You've been playing for five years.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, it's going on to six.  But the media told me it was a big major, so I was like, okay.  But what is the U.S. Women's team? 

            Q.  The World Amateur team?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah.

            Q.  It's all around the country.  55 countries play, and it's four days of stroke play, and three players from each country play.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Who goes?  Me, Jessica? 

            Q.  It hasn't been announced yet.

            DANIELLE KANG:  I get to go to Argentina now.  My friend went there this year.  I wanted to go.

            Q.  Was that Jennifer that went there?

            DANIELLE KANG:  No, no, a friend for fun.

            Q.  Where have you been outside the country?

            DANIELLE KANG:  I've been to a lot of places.  Thailand, China, Japan, I think I've been to New Zealand, I don't know.  I might go there this year to go bungee jump for my 18th birthday.

            Q.  Bungee jump, wow.

            DANIELLE KANG:  I told my dad.  He was like this is going to be the last putt on 17.  I said can I get a TV if I make this? 

            Q.  What did he say?

            DANIELLE KANG:  I said I can get one because I got a new room and I really want a TV.  And he goes, I'll get you a TV if you make this.  And I said, really?  And he said, yeah.  You can watch it, really can I get a TV and he said, yeah, you can get a TV.

            Q.  Is this for your dorm room or your house?

            DANIELLE KANG:  My house.  I live 15 minutes away, so I have a big room now.

            Q.  Yeah, so the U.S. Open next year.  The Amateur golf?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Am I into the British Open? 

            Q.  The U.S. Women's Open.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Do I get to go to the British Amateur? 

            Q.  Yes, the British Open Amateur.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Because I wanted to go to the British Open or the British Amateur, I don't know what that was, but I was all bummed out that I couldn't go to qualifier this year.  Then they said just win the U.S. Amateur this year and you'll get in.

            Q.  So you'll probably get an invite to the Kraft, I would assume.  They usually invite the Women's Amateur champion?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Okay, well, that's good.  I get a lot of things.

            Q.  So didn't you do Tae Kwon Do for a while?  What did you do before golf?

            DANIELLE KANG:  I did Tae Kwon Do.  I quit though when I was 8 or 7.  I was second degree black belt.  I was going to go train for the Olympics and stuff, but then I moved out here.  I didn't like the teachers here.  They don't really know what they're talking about to be honest. You know I had a teaching degree, my brother had a teaching degree, and we were teaching the class.

            Q.  When you were 7?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, 7, and my brother was 9.  And I just quit because I'm not learning anything, but I really loved it though.

            Q.  Where did you learn it?

            DANIELLE KANG:  In Korea.  I lived there since I was 1.

            Q.  So you were born in San Francisco?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Uh‑huh, we all moved back there and lived there until I was in second grade and came over here.

            Q.  So what did you do until you were 12?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Traveled.

            Q.  No other sports?

            DANIELLE KANG:  No.  We went to Hawaii, Korea, snowboarding, I used to do all that stuff.

            Q.  What made you pick up golf?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Well, we go to Korea every summer because my dad's in Korea.  We didn't get to play golf because there are no tournaments to go to or anything.  My dad used to go to work and there used to be a range right next to the work.  He didn't want us to be at work all day and annoy him.  So he put us at the range and said hit golf balls, whatever. So my brother hits and I'm just over there like I used to hate golf.  Why would you play golf?  It's so annoying.  Then my brother started getting good, because we were there for three months.  After like two months my brother's getting the hang of it.  He's hitting the ball down the middle and everyone's like oh my God, look at that kid hit the ball.  It's so far because he hits it really hard. And everybody comes to me and your brother's so good.  Look at your brother.  And I got really annoyed.  That is the only reason I picked up golf.  And I got upset and said stop saying my brother's so good, so I picked up the club and started swinging. So when we came back here I started taking lessons and we started.  So basically because of my brother.  Competitive.  My dad tried to get me into golf, but I didn't really like it.

            Q.  Where do you play at home?  A public course or private course?

            DANIELLE KANG:  I used to be a member at a private course because I couldn't play public links this year.  But a week later Public Links started and I quit that.

            Q.  You can get ready next year at the Dunes?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, I go to Sherwood a lot.  Wayne and Janet Gretzky take me out there all the time.  They're really nice.  Like the Golf Channel thing.  They asked me who my favorite athlete was outside of golf, and I said Wayne Gretzky, and Janet says why didn't you say Janet Gretzky. And I was like Janet, I can't even say your name.  You don't play hockey.  She's like whatever.

            Q.  How did you meet them?

            DANIELLE KANG:  My brother's best friend I met them around, and my brother introduced me to Janet.  And Janet really liked playing golf with me, so we played golf a lot.  It's a really good facility.  It's at the Tiger Target Challenge.  So you have to go out there and they like playing golf. 

            Q.  You play with them a lot still?

            DANIELLE KANG:  Yeah, I've been practicing with them a lot until I started practicing.  They let me get ready on the putting green.  It's really nice and fast.  I got ready for Oakmont there.

            Q.  Where do you play your golf now mostly?  Your regular golf?

            DANIELLE KANG:  I used to play at Wood Ranch.

            Q.  Oh, Wood Ranch.

            DANIELLE KANG:  Now I'm not there.  Sherwood prepared me for like the speed of the greens really well.  But the course itself I couldn't do much with it.       

More from the USGA