October 7, 2020
Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, USA
Aronimink Golf Club
THE MODERATOR: We are here with Rolex Rankings No. 3, Danielle Kang. Danielle is competing in her 10th KPMG Women's PGA Championship, becoming a Rolex first-time winner with her victory in 2017 at Olympia Fields, making her 10th start of this 2020 season with wins at our resumption events, the LPGA Drive On Championship and Marathon LPGA Classic. Danielle, you've had so much success recently, but I think back, I think everything really changed for you with your win at Olympia Fields in 2017. Does that feel like your big breakthrough moment of your career?
DANIELLE KANG: Most definitely. I think it's one of the big events of my life, winning the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in 2017, winning a major for the first time in the fashion that I did it with a birdie on the last hole and without having a win on Tour for five-plus years, I think that was something that I was looking forward to for a long time, and it happened.
THE MODERATOR: Now fast forward, you are No. 3 in the world coming into this week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship. What are your thoughts on Aronimink? We're hearing it's long and going to be hard out there.
DANIELLE KANG: Yeah, the golf course is monstrous, actually. I'm thinking about taking one of my wedges out and putting in another hybrid and woods. But we never know. I don't know how it's going to play tomorrow. That's the beauty of a major. Every day is different, depending on weather conditions. It also depends on course setup, how the LPGA and the PGA of America decides to set the golf course up. But I think it's going to be fun if they play it the way we're practicing it. I might not be able to reach a par-4 if I mis-hit a tee shot or mis-hit my second shot even with a wood. But I think that's the fun of it. Depends what kind of scores they want for the week, and whatever it is, it's not really up to the players. Whatever comes our way, we're going to have to go with it.
Q. I want to ask about the bag configuration. What wedge would you take out and what hybrid would you put in?
DANIELLE KANG: So far we haven't decided. I think the nine holes I'm going to play today is going to decide for that. Fortunately I have an afternoon tee time tomorrow, so it really depends how they set up the golf course -- if they decide to pull up the tees -- I hope they don't, but if they do then I won't need as many long clubs as I do. So far right now about three or four clubs are switching back and forth, so it really all depends how cold it's going to be tomorrow and how the golf course is going to play.
Q. Inbee just said this was probably the longest course she's ever played. Where does it rank for you?
DANIELLE KANG: Like I said, I've played practice rounds that are this long, that play this long, they just didn't play it that long when Thursday came around. I can give you the answer by tomorrow. If they do play it the way it's going to be, like this, then it might be one of the longest golf courses that I've competed on on LPGA Tour. But like I said, I have no idea how they're going to set it up. You never know. We practice off a certain tee, like on No. 10 I have 4-iron, 5-irons in right now but they may pull up the tee by 30 yards, and all of a sudden there's a downhill slope and I could have a 7-iron or 8-iron in. It really varies, depending on the setup.
Q. As a player ranked so highly and someone with some length, the harder this is set up, is it better? Or can you enjoy that test on a stage like this if it's made difficult?
DANIELLE KANG: I don't know if the rankings have anything to do with that, but I do believe that the golf course is tough, and I think that's another challenge, that it's going to be in one of the aspects of when we compete, length is something that some people struggle with and some people don't. Same thing, it depends on what grass we play. It varies from bent to Kentucky to bluegrass to Bermuda. Everyone has got their strengths and weaknesses. There aren't -- I can't say any, but there aren't a lot of par-5s which are reachable, which is different than what we normally do because there's a lot of -- like probably 70 percent of the field can't reach it in two normally. I think it kind of evens out the playing field a little bit, but you still have to hit some good shots from tee to green, in and around the green. The greens are tough out here.
Q. Since KPMG took this tournament over, you've played some really quality golf courses. Where does Aronimink rate with the other courses that you've played in the last five, six years in this championship?
DANIELLE KANG: Well, since KPMG has taken over -- what was it, Wegmans PGA Championship before? In respect to that, though, Locust Hill was like a great community and it was there for over 19 years, I believe, and I loved that golf course, too. It was really tight and the fairways were narrow, greens were firm, and depending on the weather.
But I look at what golf courses that we have played so far, and I really respect the fact that we're able to play these prestigious golf courses. Sahalee was beautiful. I'm going to say Olympia Fields is my favorite, obviously; Hazeltine was really difficult, as well; and I'm looking forward to this week and same thing with Baltusrol in a couple years. I believe that it's just exciting that we get to play the prestigious golf courses that we do and compete where the history of golf has been set.
Q. My question is going to be for you to play well this week, what do you see the keys being for your game?
DANIELLE KANG: Trying not to have any weaknesses from tee to green and around the greens. Honestly, fairways are quite wide, so missing a fairway will be pretty crucial, but just because you hit the fairway doesn't mean you're going to hit the greens. Around the greens are really soft bent. There's a lot of chunks that are playable, so you can chunk it pretty easily around the greens, and all of a sudden if you're in the rough, it's Kentucky bluegrass that has a really thick root that just pops out in your face. Not only that, you hit it to about five feet and the green breaks about 5 percent slope.
Honestly, I think you're just going to have to trust your game, all the work that you've done and just not have any weaknesses in any aspect of your shots. I don't really think there's one thing you have to do really well to perform out here. The golf course is really, really tough.
Q. In keeping with Joe's question, what does it mean for women's golf that you are playing these kinds of golf courses in this event, in the Women's British, just playing courses that have that kind of history to them?
DANIELLE KANG: I think we're headed in the right direction in general. Our commissioner, Mike Whan, has done an incredible job of making the LPGA Tour the way it is. Ever since I joined the Tour since 2012, I can't believe the difference it is since my rookie year until now. The purses that we're competing for, I mean, KPMG, the new CEO and president, Knopp, has increased the purse this week, paid for our entry fees, and I respectfully just have so much appreciation for that. And just the discussions that they have, I don't know what they discuss behind doors, but I really am thankful for the opportunity that they give us and especially with the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, with the women's leadership programs and empowering women and inspiring all around the world, yet playing the prestigious golf courses and golf itself elevating our games and our tour. Just thankful for everyone that's involved in it.
Q. The guys have played here several times. I know on occasion you might pick someone's brain who's played here before. Did you do that or did you look at your Google Maps, anything?
DANIELLE KANG: I did look at my Google Maps. I actually don't know anyone that's played here. I haven't a single person that I've known that's played here. But I have heard a lot of different things, people that had advice for me that they said I would like it. It's more of a ball striker's golf course, they said, but if you miss a green you've still got to know how to chip around here. It's the fall, the grass is soft with the firmer rough around it. It's just going to be tough, and I think trying to eliminate minuscule mistakes might be kind of key.
Q. What was your first impression from Google Maps when you looked at it?
DANIELLE KANG: There's a lot of crisscrossing holes, so you can just kind of -- I was looking at it as a practice round more than anything, seeing if I could jump from 10 to 8, things like that.
Q. Doesn't really help.
DANIELLE KANG: No, you just kind of have to play it, get the speed of the greens.
Q. What do you try and learn off the Google Map? Is it a lot of wind direction? What are things you're trying to learn looking at a course from an aerial view?
DANIELLE KANG: From an aerial view I like to see how many bunkers are in the fairways, if bunkers are hugging the fairways and roughs, and around the greens how undulated it would be. You can't really see the slopes very well but you can see -- for instance, like No. 13 there's a bunker protecting the fairway on the left yet there's rough on the right, so we'd have to check the rough on the right. Yet there's a bunker in front of the green with a cover and a drop-off on the back. Things like that.
So I wanted to know how the golf course was going to protect itself, and right now it seems like the bunkers, so I kind of try to focus on the bunkers and type of sand and what kind of shots you can hit from fairways and around the greens.
Q. Were you surprised initially when they redid this a couple years ago they added 100 bunkers.
DANIELLE KANG: Oh, I didn't know that.
Q. Were you surprised to see how many there were and the clusters?
DANIELLE KANG: Yes and no. I just kind of -- I don't know. Not really, I guess. I just kind of hit my tee shot and try and figure out where my tee shots would be and what would be in play for what certain pin positions, and that's all I can really do until, like I say, we tee off on Thursday, and it depends how it's going to play. I think the weather conditions are really going to vary it a lot.
Q. What's the toughest hole or toughest stretch out here do you think?
DANIELLE KANG: The back nine is unbelievable. I have to go play it again today.
Q. Is that the one you're playing again?
DANIELLE KANG: Yeah, I have to because I haven't quite got a grasp on it yet.
Q. So when you say "unbelievable," what do you mean?
DANIELLE KANG: The length of it, the protection around the greens, around the fairways. Even if you want to hit the fairway you might not be able to. You might have to play a mis-shot, and then from there you have to be able to hit a good 4-iron shot on to the greens. Just because you hit a good shot does not mean you have a good putt left, and there's a lot of three-putt opportunities on the back nine. It's just there's never a moment of kind of -- what is that word you're looking for, certainty? And that gives me a little bit of a -- yeah, the uncertainty. I get there and I go, I don't know what to do here right now.
Q. So then you have to get off to a fast start on the front if that's the case?
DANIELLE KANG: Not necessarily. I mean, you don't want to start fast and then think that there's opportunities on the back. You don't want to think like that. But no, I think the back nine is somewhere that gain strokes and lose strokes. Same thing with the front, you just can't lose focus on it, but I think the back nine is going to play tougher than the front in my opinion.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the Women's Leadership Summit. We had it up on the video here earlier. Robin Roberts was on who has been a big inspiration for me. Inspiring greatness is a main storyline and focus of the leadership Summit. Who is inspiring to you in golf, out of golf, and what does it mean to you to inspire the next generation of golfers and business women? Mike Whan talks all the time about how you're a small business owner, you run your own business. How do you take inspiration and how do you hope to inspire?
DANIELLE KANG: This might sound cliche, but my biggest woman inspiration is my mom. A lot of girls look up to their moms, and I'm not a mom so I actually don't know how she does it, I don't know how she did it, but to be able to be successful in your own occupation and just -- she always has taught me to say that being a person is more important, like you're a person before you're a golfer, so that's something that you have to focus on, and inspiring other people and making things better around you and around the world. That's something that she has instilled in my system. That's something that I'm looking forward to do. Golf has been a platform where it's given me a stage to make a little difference, whether how small or how big. As long as I can capitalize on that, I feel like I've done some kind of part to make a difference in someone's life. That's something that I learned from my mom, and that's really inspiring to me and hopefully I can spread that inspiration.
DANIELLE KANG: I know you're doing that with your work with UNICEF and by showing off inside the ropes. Get out there and have fun this week.
DANIELLE KANG: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports