LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – Danielle Kang’s success since working with Butch Harmon is well documented. But your success since working with Annika Sorenstam? Well, Sunday could tell the story.
On Thursday, Kang took the lead at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions with an opening round 64. Also this week, Sorenstam, the 72-time LPGA Tour winner and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, will be in action in the Celebrity Division. Sorenstam, who ranks seventh among celebrities after Round 1, announced that she was working with the five-time LPGA winner.
« We had some conversations over the phone, just mentally preparing them, » said Sorenstam, who was in the group behind Kang on Thursday. « So it was fun to see them play. »
Sorenstam played the opening round with defending champion Gaby Lopez. Lopez grew up in Mexico and adored Lorena Ochoa, but also looked up to Sorenstam. The 27-year-old took the opportunity to learn from the Hall of Famer on Thursday. « We talked a lot about short-term goals, » said Lopez about her round with Sorenstam. “She has dominated in so many ways and always asked herself, ‘How can I just get better in this area, in this area? ‘Just broken down so that she feels like she’s reaching other goals in the short term to gain confidence comfortably. «
There’s a lot of red, white and blue on the Diamond Resorts leaderboard that has to make Pat Hurst smile.
Many players on the field grew up with Sorenstam, but most had no chance to play with her in its prime. Sorenstam retired in 2008. Kang joined the Tour in 2012 and Lopez in 2016.
« I’ve talked to Gaby and she says, » Tell me, how do you prepare and keep focus for so long? « Sorenstam said. “I’m trying to think. I’m everywhere but I’m just trying to say what I remember. “
All the lessons Sorenstam can share are a bonus for those who are allowed to play with her, which is a learning experience in itself.
» Growing up I wish I could be Lorena Ochoa or Annika Sorenstam, « said Lopez. « Today was probably one of the happiest days of my life to be able to play in a competitive round with her. »
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Danielle Kang managed to take some of the limelight from the Korda sisters on Thursday as the LPGA Tour opened its 71st season.
There’s plenty of red, white and blue on the Diamond Resorts leaderboard , which has to make Pat Hurst smile.
To say the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions is unlike any other event on the LPGA Tour is an understatement.