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May 23, 2023

Danielle Kang

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Shadow Creek

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: All right, welcome inside the media center here at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards.

Welcome our defacto tournament host, Danielle. What's it like for the TOUR to be back in Vegas?

DANIELLE KANG: I absolutely love obviously having the tournament here, and I think everyone knows that it's one of my favorite events of the year.

Excited to see what Shadow is going to become throughout the week, because I'm speaking to the grounds crew and the entire staff and they're very looking forward to making the greens faster, firmer, and condition's always so absolutely mint, everyone wants to say.

I just hope everyone has a really good time in Vegas and likes coming here.

Q. What is it about this event that excites you year after year? This is our third year here. Being at Shadow Creek, being at your, quote-unquote, home course, what is it about match play that's exciting to you this week?

DANIELLE KANG: For me it's not necessarily just match play. What I'm excited about is we get to play a caliber golf course like Shadow Creek. Our sponsors, Bank of Hope and MGM Resorts hosts us as world class athletes. It elevates as athletes, elevates us as a tour, and having an event like that on the schedule really is moving us to the next level and having everything headed in the right direction.

So I'm very thankful for partners like this, and I think this is the week to show them how appreciative we are and to play the best golf and that's what we're here to do.

Q. Coming off some off weeks. Were able to make a surprise appearance somewhere as well. What has it been like gearing up for this event and where are you feeling had your game as we get into this week?

DANIELLE KANG: As many people would like to point out, I did not hit the ball well at International Crown. However, I scrambled really well. I scored pretty great. Had a lot of fun with the girls. Just haven't been playing well in general, I guess.

I've been finishing well and not well, and it's kind of not all tied up yet. There are some swing mechanics I'm working on, and I think I've kind of got it down and feel good it. I feel really positive about the direction I'm headed, and, yeah, I don't know, I just feel good about it.

Q. I think the smile permeates the room. What are you most excited about for this week as it relates to this event?

DANIELLE KANG: I'm most excited about competing at Shadow Creek, having MGM as my little cushion, being able to be at home. Whoever is going to come out and watch is going to come out and watch, but for me I'm focused on what I get to do at the golf course.

It is my home course and there is nothing like a home game. I'm always jealous of other sports where they get to have home games, home crowd, home stadium. If I have it one week out of the year it's more than I could ever ask for.

That's what I'm excited about, to be in the present and enjoy the week like I do every year.

Q. As our Las Vegas ambassador and Shadow Creek ambassador, any disappointment in the number of top players that chose not to play this week?

DANIELLE KANG: Yes and no. I try to focus on the positives, right, and I'm trying to tell players to try not to pinpoint the negatives. I guess somebody complained we got too many gifts last year, so they made sure we don't get too many gifts this year.

Some people complained about the limo and now they're like, okay, well drive your own car in.

It's so miniscule I want to focus on -- strength of field is one thing, but it's coming together to making it better, right? All we have to do is -- like we all have to do our part.

Playing a tournament, and I'm sure I've definitely not have played and competed in one of the high level events and I have my reasons, and so I respect the players for coming or choosing what they want to play or not on the schedule.

So I'm not disappointed in that part. It's just maybe I'm a bit more sensitive about it since it's my home and it's a great golf course and I want the tournament to be here and I want the girls to experience it moving forward.

If they just appreciate where we are at, the golf course, the venue, the sponsors, Bank of Hope. Korea is a big partner of the LPGA and Bank of Hope is Korean company.

You know, acknowledging that and having Las Vegas have your back and having LPGA down the strip and they have it on MGM Grand, like the entire billboards. I think that's pretty cool.

I know we are not exactly where we want to be yet, but we're going to get to where we want to get to. That's what I'm focusing on.

Q. Any fear that because of the strength of schedule the sponsors might say, we've had enough?

DANIELLE KANG: I don't think so. I'm pretty faithful in my sponsors. Every partner that I'm with, I know where their loyalty lies and what they're envisioning for the future. Bank of Hope, I know they are supporting women's golf.

For me I can speak mostly for MGM Rewards, because MGM is supportive of golf in general. There is no really division between men and women. There is not much -- we actually pretty much get equal pay as a sponsor, men versus women.

I think I'm one of the highest paid. Things like that. I can't explain that because I want sponsors to know that we have people like this that back us up and people that want to help us get to where we want to get to.

I think they don't have any inclination -- and this is my opinion -- on just leaving us high and dry. I think they're going to try and figure out how to make it better, more accommodating for us, which they've been doing for three years.

I just see getting better, if anything. I'm just very thankful to have a partner like that.

Q. To change the subject, not to dig up the past, but you seem like you're in a much better place than at this point last year with the issues you had going on.

DANIELLE KANG: I had a lot of issues in the past year. Not just past year, past many years of my life. But not even just this week. I've had issues two weeks ago. I don't know if you watched Crown, but we had issues.

So regardless of what the issues are, that's life. It's never going to be smooth sailing. If it is, I don't want it. That's just who I am. A lot of the drama. Just got to embrace it as it comes your way. If you're not hitting it good, just figure it out. If you're hitting it great, just ride it out.

It is what it is. If you're sick, you're sick. If you're feeling good, you're feeling good. I'm here, we're playing. Shadow is here. We thought we would never have a tournament at Shadow Creek. I slept I think four hours last night. I thought I might miss the tee time. I didn't. We're doing great. I'm here. So, cool.

Q. I had a couple quick ones. So Crown I know wasn't what you were looking for. What did you learn from that week about your ability to scramble and contribute to a team when you may not have had your best stuff?

DANIELLE KANG: I learned that shit happens, really. But I was very appreciative of my teammates. I had so much fun with the girls. Lilia, Lexi, Nelly, playing alternate shots with Nelly. We shot under par both times, and trust me, I was spraying it.

Lexi was such a great best ball partner for me and she was just attacking everything because she goes, you'll just make up and down from everywhere. The support I got from players and them knowing that I didn't have my A or B Game, they never criticized. They just were highlighting what I was good at.

I think that's something that I really will stay with me nor a long time. A lot of times when you watch people struggle, whether it's putting, chipping, or ball striking, we only focus on the negative.

As players, when we talk to each other, we didn't. It was just the four of us, a small group, and it was a lot of fun, honestly.

In general, shit happens. Sorry. I was hitting it everywhere, so...

Q. I love that. It's obviously Asian-American Pacific Islander month. You as one of the top players out here and a Korean-American, what does your heritage mean to you and to be able to represent the Asian-Americans on tour?

DANIELLE KANG: That's so cool that you asked that. I'm always proud to be an American, but I've always been very proud to be a Korean. There is a reason why I know how to read and write and speak fluently in Korean and I was born and raised in America.

A lot of the Koreans get surprised on how well I speak and read. It's because I think sometimes you have to really respect and embrace the heritage where we came from. I want to learn about the history of Korea and how we came to be.

Learning about American history is the same way.

For me embracing both heritages have been double, I guess, the information and knowledge that I had to look up and learn, but I'm always proud to represent both countries.

I always wear the stars and stripes no matter where I go, whether it's Crown, Solheim Cup, Olympics. I'll always be an American. Deep down I'm always proud to be a Korean descent.

That will never change. So I try and honor that by knowing the history and where I came from and the culture, because I think that's important.

Q. There are a lot of little girls out here every single week of all different backgrounds. Being able to represent that Korean American little girl, what does that mean to you? You're really connected with the fans. What does it mean to represent your culture in the way that you do?

DANIELLE KANG: I want specifically Korean American girls to know that you don't to have chose. I think that goes with whether it's second generation, American, dash, whatever you may be, Mexican-American, Spanish-American, Euro-American, whatever you want to be. I don't want them to lose their identity.

Sometimes we feel out of place because we're not fully American or considered a full -- whether it's the way we look or talk or whatever it may be. But it doesn't really matter what -- how you're perceived, as long as you know where your roots are and where you came from.

You just be you and just be a badass that you are, whatever you may be. I think that's very important for me to show. I have no problem telling you that I am a Korean-American, telling you where I grew up. Also have no problem telling you it in Korean as well.

I want them to embrace who they are and be proud of it instead of looking at the negatives on why it could be better.

Same thing applies to the world I guess. (Smiling.)

Q. Danielle, over the course of your career you've done a lot of travel between events. What have been some of the things you have learned to shorten the recovery period?

DANIELLE KANG: So I didn't go to New Jersey. I was in Hawai'i. (Smiling.) I don't know if you know that. Before that, I was in Korea.

So, yeah, I'm known for a player that doesn't really go home very often. I guess I do travel a lot.

My short recovery is -- doesn't really matter. Just go to sleep and stretch and do what you're supposed to do and, yeah, good to go. Drink a lot water. All the basic things that our moms and dad's tell us all our lives, just do it.

It doesn't take much to self-care, and if you're lazy about the little things you're not going to get big things done. So like making your bed every morning. You got to do little diligent stuff. That's how I recover really fast.

I travel between events quite often because that's what makes me happy, going to see my friends. I don't want to be stuck in this realm because this isn't all that I am. This isn't who I am, all of it.

So when I have a chance, down time, I want to go be myself and be myself with whoever I want to be, and they happen to be across the world. With that, I don't want to put the pressure of golf on top of it saying if I don't sleep, if I don't go home and have the practice facility that I need right here, I'm not going to play well. That mindset doesn't exist for me.

You do the putting drills you need to do, hit the balls, got to get ready, go to sleep when you need to, get off Netflix, stop going on Instagram and scrolling for 45 minutes when you could have rolled on a foam roller. All those things will help you recover as fast as you can.

Make sure you're eating, snacking, all those things.

Q. And you were talking about the journey of the event. This will be the first LPGA Tour tournament without Founder alive in the tour's history. What does that feel like?

DANIELLE KANG: I guess that's a lot of mixed emotions. For me, I'm just very thankful. It's life. I know that nothing is really forever, but what we can do is what they've always said is leave it better than we found it.

I'm very thankful for the Founders because I wouldn't be here without them. Hopefully one day there will be a Kent asking another young girl, saying -- asking the same question when I'm not around, and hopefully I've made an impact for a little girl to say, I want to play golf and I'm here because of Danielle Kang.

That might be 80 years down the road from whatever I've done today or tomorrow. But I think I hope they know even in the afterlife, that they made an impact on hundreds and thousands of people, and that's including college girls or fans, anybody that is involved in women's golf, even staff.

So, it's pretty awesome. They've given jobs to a lot of people, including me.

Q. Just real quick, it's been a few months now. Can you talk about the caddie change and how you think that's affected your game and if you're happy with the way things are going?

DANIELLE KANG: I have a new caddie and his name is Martin. What was the question?

Q. Just the caddie change. Kind of just first season without your regular guy you had for years.

DANIELLE KANG: It's not necessarily just a caddie for me. No one is going to make it or break me. I'm going to be what I am, the player that I am.

I would like to have a caddie that could be my partner out there, that could be a second set of eyes that could lend me a helping hand when I need it or when he thinks I need it.

It's as simple is that. Sometimes you move on and sometimes you're with a person for six, seven years. But when people like to pinpoint a change to say that this is the reason you're doing, blank, I don't think that's a fair thing to say to a player that's playing good or bad.

Every player out here works hard. Every player out here is dedicated and doing what they need to do to progress to work towards their goals.

My mindset is every choice that I make has a reason, and I stick by them. Everything that happens in life you got to roll with the punches, whether it's in my control or not. That's the game of the golf. Just got to go with it. Only thing I have control is when to go to sleep and eat.

As long as I'm focussing on that, I'm really -- I live a very happy life and going with just whatever comes my way.

Q. Is this a temporary change this week or...

DANIELLE KANG: I don't know. Ask me that in a couple weeks and I'll let you know.

THE MODERATOR: That will do it for us. Thank you, Danielle.


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