Danielle Kang Defends U.S. Amateur Golf Title

Southern California native Danielle Kang became the first golfer in 15 years to repeat as U.S. Women’s Amateur champion after she dominated Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn in the 36-hole final at the Rhode Island Country Club.

The 18-year-old Pepperdine sophomore from Westlake Village, Calif. fought through back pain to become the 11th player to accomplish the back-to-back feat, joining the likes of LPGA founder Betty Jameson and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster.

“It’s the best I’ve played in a major championship,” Kang told GolfWeek.com. “I brought it on.”

College friends Austin Ernst, Emily Tubert and Amy Anderson doused Kang with water on the 13th hole after she closed the match. It was a most welcome downpour. Kang immediately called her mother, who was crying on the other end.

“She’s not going to miss another tournament after this,” Danielle said.

Kang has said she will turn pro in the immediate future.

“Every time an amateur decides to turn pro, they always think, ‘Am I ready?’ ” Kang told GolfWeek. “That’s what they ask themselves. Now I know that I am, and I have to go to the next level.”