Kang chases LPGA win at Ocala with one eye on Olympics

MIAMI (AFP) – World number five Danielle Kang was dreaming of being an Olympian since childhood, long before becoming an LPGA player, so she’s keeping an eye on plans for the Tokyo Games.

Kang will be among the favourites at this week’s Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala in central Florida, which last hosted a tour event in 2016 when South Korean Jang Ha-na won the Coates Championship.

Third-ranked American Nelly Korda, who won last week’s Gainbridge LPGA, and top-ranked Ko Jin-young of South Korea, are also in the 120-player field and figure to be Olympic rivals of Kang in Tokyo on August 4-7. That’s only five months away, but it has already been a dream delayed for Kang after COVID-19 caused a one-year Olympics postponement.

Kang, the United States (US) daughter of South Korean parents, was looking to martial arts as a path to Olympic glory, but found success in golf and then saw it return to the Olympic lineup at Rio in 2016.

“The Olympics has been my dream ever since I was a toddler,” Kang said. “A different dream on how I wanted to get there. I wanted to get there with martial arts, but golf wasn’t available for years.

“Olympics has been something that I wanted to do all my life, wanted to compete in all my life. So it is really high on my priority list.”

Some worried it meant too much to her.

“People have said, ‘Don’t make it too exciting or too important. What happens if you fail?’ But that’s how important it is to me,” Kang said. “I want to be an Olympian and contend in the Olympics. That’s something that has been on my calendar for a long time, so i’m really excited.”