Kang captures Women’s PGA Championship

Danielle Kang made her first victory in 144 starts on the LPGA Tour a major.

The 24-year-old Kang, the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who played at Pepperdine, made a three-foot birdie putt on the last hole to cap a 3-under-par 68 and beat defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada by one stroke in the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Golf Club in Olympia Fields, Ill.

“I just trusted my game,” said Kang, a graduate of Westlake High in Westlake Village. “I didn’t worry about anything. You just have to believe in yourself and trust your game, and that’s what I did.”

Kang finished with a total of 13-under 271, but left the door open for Henderson with a bogey on the 17th hole before becoming the first LPGA player to make her first victory a major since Mo Martin of Pasadena and UCLA at the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open.

Henderson, 19, who beat Lydia Ko of New Zealand to win the title last year at Sahalee, birdied the 17th hole, but left her 30-foot eagle putt one roll short on the final hole and closed with a 66.

“I played great all week and I came so close,” said Henderson, who has four LPGA Tour victories. “It came down to those last two holes to make it really close. I would have liked to have made one or two more putts on the back nine.

“It was a great week for me. There was a little more pressure coming in to this week. Knowing that I won last year, I really wanted to do it again. I gave myself the best opportunity to do that. Unfortunately, I just came up a little bit short.”

Chella Choi of South Korea, who was tied with Kang for the 54-hole lead, shot 71 and was three shots back in solo third, while South Koreans Mi Hyang Lee (67), Amy Yang (68) and Sei Young Kim (68) were another stroke behind in a tie for fourth.

Seven-time major champion Inbee Park of South Korea totaled 68 and was six down in a tie for seventh with Lexi Thompson, who had a 69, while Stacy Lewis and Kelly Shon posted 67s to finish another shot back in a tie for ninth.

So Yeon Ryu, who took over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings last week by winning the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, wound up in a tie for 14th after a 71.

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