When Danielle Kang closed out Moriya Jutanugarn, 6 and 5, at Rhode Island Country Club to capture the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the phenom from Pepperdine University looked poised for big things on the professional stage. The San Francisco native was the first player in 15 years to win the championship in consecutive years, and since joining the LPGA Tour in 2012, she has been a consistent presence, never finishing worse than 62nd in earnings.
However, winning was something Kang had yet to do since her stellar amateur career came to a close. She broke through in a big way in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club, making four straight birdies on the back nine and fending off a late charge from defending champion Brooke Henderson to earn a one-stroke victory.
Kang opened up a three-stroke lead on Sunday with birdies on holes 11 through 14. Henderson birdied her last two holes while Kang bogeyed No. 17 to pull even, but a fairway metal from 233 yards on the par-5 18th came to rest 25 feet from the hole, and two putts later, she had secured a birdie and her place in major championship history.