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May 25, 2021

Danielle Kang

Butch Harmon

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Shadow Creek

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Here with Danielle Kang, whose face you can see plastered all over the Vegas strip outside our hotels, and her coach, Butch Harmon.

Danielle, start with you. It's not too often you get to play an event like this like this period, let alone an event like this as home. Overall what has week been like as our de facto host?

DANIELLE KANG: It's been really interesting because I've never been at home, slept in my own bed going into a tournament, so I wake up and think to myself, okay, I have to go get ready for a golf tournament.

But I know the golf course really well. It's my home. I know where to go. It feels really comfortable. Best of all, I got my coach right here. So he doesn't have to go very far, and it's a really happy, exciting week for me.

THE MODERATOR: Butch, what's it been like for you -- I know you work closely with Danielle, but not necessarily able to be out and see her in competition -- to be out in this week and also to take in an LPGA event?

BUTCH HARMON: First of all, it's great that MGM and Shadow Creek would have this for the girls. I think it's a special treat for all the LPGA players that are playing here. It's a fantastic place. Beautiful golf course. It's going to be a fun week. Match play is fun to do.

Yeah, it's fun for me because I kind of semi-retired at the end of '18 so why go to any of the male events, and of course the caddies are giving me a hard time now because came to an LPGA event, but that's okay.

I'm looking forward to it. It's been fun. I think I've worn her out. Every time I see someone on the range with a nice swing I go, Who is that? Tell me who that is. Tell me who this is.

It's great. And once again, thanks to MGM and the bank and everybody that's involved in this to bring this to Shadow Creek. It's pretty special.

THE MODERATOR: Well we are happy to have you with us. Thanks for joining us for the week. Danielle, come back over to you. I think you certainly have the most experience out here on Shadow Creek, and certainly one of our most elite match play players with multiple amateur wins and all of your Solheim Cups. What do you think about Shadow Creek is going to make it such a great match play course? We've heard that from Inbee, Jin Young, from Aza, about what a great course this is for match play. Tell us about Shadow Creek and how it fits in.

DANIELLE KANG: Shadow Creek is a monster of a golf course. I believe that it's going to be great for match play or stroke play regardless. It's just a beautiful golf course.

And then just a lot of bogeys out there and a lot of birdies. It's just hard to make putts. Mistakes are just right around the corner. For match play I think you'll see a lot of people making high numbers and people making mistakes left and right off the tee, around the greens, and it's never done until the ball drops in the hole here.

So think that will make it really exciting and fun for a lot of people.

THE MODERATOR: Do you think you've got home field advantage this week?

DANIELLE KANG: Oh, yeah, definitely. I know the golf course pretty well.

BUTCH HARMON: Shhhh. Don't tell them that. Don't let them know that.

DANIELLE KANG: Yeah, it's -- okay, I played it enough times and I still feel like I need to play more, so...

BUTCH HARMON: There you go. That a girl.

DANIELLE KANG: But this is the slowest I've seen the greens. I think that with it being Shadow played, I've always played it running out about 13 sometimes, and...

BUTCH HARMON: I think about nine and a half right now.

DANIELLE KANG: Right now is running nine and a half or ten. I don't know. They say 11, but it's not. But we'll see how it is. I know that it sometimes could be really scary for us to come here and them see the undulation on the greens and seeing that you might not be able to two-putt certain things.

The beauty of this golf course, so we'll see. For me it's a little playing Shadow Creek at this speed of greens, but I think the rough and the golf course itself will protect it.

THE MODERATOR: About how many times do you think you've played it?

DANIELLE KANG: I mean, I've been in Las Vegas since I was 13 and been an MGM ambassador for four, five years now and they're one of my favorite sponsors. They make it my home. I get to play here, so I don't I don't want to move anywhere.


Q. Danielle, the LPGA announced the new commissioner this morning with Mollie Marcoux Samaan taking the helm after Mike. How did you find out this news, and how did you react when you found out?

DANIELLE KANG: I found out through my how caddie actually. I woke up kind of late today so I haven't checked my emails and my caddie told me. I just said, Oh, okay. I haven't really got much into it with the whole who it is. I only read the first bios, but I was more focused on getting (indiscernible).

Q. Butch, how is Danielle's game as a person changed most over the course of her working with you?

BUTCH HARMON: We been together what, about three years I think almost.


BUTCH HARMON: That's really how notable it is. No, she's done great. A lot of fun to be with. As you guys know, she has a lot of energy. Works really hard. She works as hard or harder than any of the male players I ever had success with. She is always striving to get better. We talk about weak parts in her game which used to be a weakness is now she's turned them into strengths, so it's been fun.

It's enjoyable. We both live here so it's easy to see each other when she's home. Yeah, she's doing great. She's having a good year and it's going to get better.

Q. For the casual golf fan who might not understand, how difficult is it to turn a weakness into a strength?

BUTCH HARMON: You know, you're dealing with people that who have tremendous talent. Our job as coaches, doesn't matter whether it's PGA, LPGA, Champions Tour player, they can do anything you tell them to do, so you better be 100% sure what you're telling them is the right thing and the results work out the best.

She was struggling when she first came to me, and we've done pretty good, haven't we?

DANIELLE KANG: Yeah. Unless I piss him off then he says he'll change my grip.

BUTCH HARMON: She gives me a hard time all the time, so I'm used to it.

Q. What was she struggling with at the time?

BUTCH HARMON: A lot of it was mental more than physical, and then there was some physical things we had to change swing-wise, which was easy to do.

I think she was just in a bad place mentally, anxiety and things that weren't allowing her to be herself. I really just want to bring her own personality out and just let her be herself, and it's nice to see her being able to do that.

What have we won, four times since we been together?


BUTCH HARMON: It's been fun. We got a few more to have.

Q. When we talked a few months ago out here you said players were already asking you for tips and help on the course out here. Are they still asking you for tips and are you offering any?

DANIELLE KANG: Oh, yeah, they just asked me as I was walking through the dining. They say, Give us tips. How am I supposed to putt out here? I go, Play about ten more times and maybe you'll get some more insight into Shadow Creek.

It's not about just tips though. I joke around and say, no, I won't give you a tip or I will give you a tip, but honestly you got to play the golf course, you know the golf course inside out.

That's about it.


DANIELLE KANG: Hit good shots and miss it in the right places of sometimes even if you hit it well you might he said up with a 40 yard pitch shot.

Mistakes are right around the corner so you have to be patient and play a good -- you have to play well.


Q. And then as someone who just cares passionately about Solheim Cup in general, how disappointed are you that a lot of your teammates are not here this week with a rare chance to play match play?

DANIELLE KANG: To be honest with you, this week I'm not disappointed about anything. I'm at home. MGM, one of my best sponsors, is hosting an event at Shadow Creek for the LPGA. I've got nothing to complain about.

If no one is here they're missing out, to be honest. I think you guys can speak for yourselves that MGM has hosted us amazingly, and Shadow Creek is a beautiful track. I'm hoping we come back for the next 10, 20 years and make it our place we come with back.

This is the first time we can build history and it takes a group of people to take the first step with us, so MGM and Bank of Hope have done that.

BUTCH HARMON: I'm surprised they're not here, because it's a big match play event in a great facility. It's surprising that they didn't want to show up. I don't understand that. I guess because the U.S. Open is next week probably. Might be a thing.

But still, you know, with being a Solheim Cup year, it's surprising that they wouldn't be here for this.

Q. Do you think playing a match play event the week before such an important major is an issue or is it --

DANIELLE KANG: I think it's going to be beneficial, to be honest. I think it'll be really fun. It's going to be a lot of confidence building one-on-one. There is going to be a lot of different types of game play. When you get to the U.S. Open you stress about preparing too much.

Right now we're here to win. People are out here competing and practicing to win, so I think that kind of mentality sets you up really well for a major more so than anything.

THE MODERATOR: Speaking of the major, I saw you were up in San Francisco; played Olympic recently. I belive you played Kay Cockerill. Did I see that right?

DANIELLE KANG: No, I skipped it. I had -- I was hanging out with my friends.

THE MODERATOR: Got you. But I know you were up there, and I know no matter what you're always primed for a major. How are you are feeling now coming into this week? And we were also saying earlier it's just a beast of a golf course. It certainly might be good major prep considering next week is going to be so difficult.

DANIELLE KANG: Olympic is going to a big golf course. I played a few holes and it's a monster of a golf course as well. I think Shadow will prepare a lot of people for that. This is a stressful track, and once you take your focus off you're just going to make mistake, and same thing with Olympic. Just going to be really stressful couple weeks.

But match play one-on-one is going to make it really fun, and hope everyone is enjoying Vegas and be a good week.

THE MODERATOR: Well, coming into your pod is yourself, Lizette Salas, Madelene Sagstrom, and Albane Valenzuela. Start of off tomorrow playing Albane. What are your thoughts on this pod? I know you're particularly close with Lizette. It goes back to at the end of the day it's you job and you got to play. One of you has to win. What are your thoughts as you look at your group there?

DANIELLE KANG: Yeah, Albane and Lizette are two of my good friend's. Lizette is one of my best friends. We look at it, we just go, All right. Let's tee it up. We're all out here to win. I'm sure Lizette is not sitting at home thinking she's not going to kick my ass. I am sure she is preparing everything she can so she can just drop those putts on me.

THE MODERATOR: I think this also, without coming across as cheesy, talks about the greatness of the LPGA. As I was walking over here. Lizette and Albane are over there having lunch together. It's part of your guys are competitors, but friends, too. That's got to be a fun dynamic.


BUTCH HARMON: And there is nothing better than beating your friend. (Laughter.)

THE MODERATOR: Any more questions? No, well, one last question from me. Where should I go to dinner tonight?

DANIELLE KANG: Are you allowed to eat out?

THE MODERATOR: Players, table of four without a mask, outdoor only.

DANIELLE KANG: Yellowtail I yes. That's an outdoor seating. You can get an outdoor seating there.

BUTCH HARMON: It's good, too.

DANIELLE KANG: Carbone, too.

BUTCH HARMON: No, Carbone is indoors.

THE MODERATOR: All right. I'll pick your brain a little more about where we all need to go eat.

DANIELLE KANG: Go to Yellowtail if you like sushi.


BUTCH HARMON: That's where you need to go.

DANIELLE KANG: Go there and get a chocolate in a cup and tell them I sent you. They'll give you a good seat.

THE MODERATOR: You heard that. All right.

DANIELLE KANG: I live there.

Q: What does it mean to you that MGM, one of your biggest sponsors, is stepping up it in its support of the Tour:

DANIELLE KANG: It’s more than just support of the Tour; it’s support of women’s sports. The fact that they are bringing us to one of the most prestigious golf courses in the country is incredible. It takes a team and supporters to make history and I’m so thankful to have MGM Resorts taking that action with us. And I know we just announced that BetMGM is one of the LPGA’s first sports gambling partners as well and that should bring more interest to the LPGA because golf is a gambling game. If you’re not playing for anything, what are you playing for?

I also am so blessed being partnered with companies that truly take action and MGM Resorts are my family that has our back. Very excited for this partnership and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the future.

I also want to thank Bank of Hope, our title sponsor. They’ve been with the LPGA for a long time and we’re so appreciative of their support, just like it takes every action to make our dreams come true.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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