A crowded leaderboard usually makes for an exciting weekend. And with 15 players within three shots of the lead at the halfway mark, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is living up to the history this event has logged in its first two years.
Danielle Kang, who missed the cut in Arkansas last week but played alongside So Yeon Ryu as the eventual winner shot 61 in the second round, made some quick adjustments to her ballstriking to play the first 36 holes at Olympia Fields without a bogey. Her 7-under total left her tied for the lead with Sei Young Kim.
“I kept sticking to the iron shots that I’ve trusted all my life and giving myself opportunities,” Kang said. “My day was really relaxing to be honest. It was stressful but relaxing. I kept giving myself birdie opportunities. That’s my game plan for the week. I’m striking the ball really well and my speed on the greens is good. I’ve just been playing consistent.”
Kang often stresses herself out and lets one bad swing or a single bad break carry over and derail an entire round. That’s the primary reason she hasn’t won on tour yet despite a stellar amateur career.
“I don’t try to get comfortable, actually,” Kang said. “I try to keep focused, because if you’re comfortable, I feel like you lose focus. That’s how I work. So I just try to keep thinking about exactly what kind of shot I want to hit, how I want to hit it and just stick to it.”
That is the opposite strategy to the one Lydia Ko employs. Every round Ko plays looks like Tuesday ladies’ day. She smiles, laughs, jokes, eats, and strolls around the course like she’s out getting in her Fitbit steps for the day. That was the case again on Friday at Olympia Fields, where Ko shot 68 and entered the weekend at 4 under, three shots back.
“It was a lot steamier than I thought it would be today,” she said laughing after her round. “I had pants and long sleeves this morning and Jessica Korda was like, ‘Hey, it’s hot.’ Now it’s all gone, apart from the shoes.”
It could be a 20-year-old college kid talking about her walk around the quad between classes. But Ko is the No. 3-ranked player in the world with 14 LPGA wins, two majors and a great shot at making more history this weekend.
There’s a lesson there for all of us.