Danielle Kang isn’t wasting any time making sure she doesn’t go through another winless LPGA season, taking out the opening event of 2022.
On a difficult championship test at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, Kang ran off five birdies in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of her final round to ser up a three-shot victory at the season-opening Tournament of Champions.
A 4-under 68 was the low score on Sunday.
“My mental game was really good,” said Kang, who was winless in 2021 after having won in each of her previous four LPGA seasons.
“I had a really good attitude all day today and yesterday.
“I know I left some putts out there, but I never let it get to me, and I kept having to give myself birdie chances as much as possible.”
Kang finished at 16-under 272, three shots clear of Canada’s Brooke Henderson (70).
Kang was the lone player to break 70 on both weekend days (69-68), and the only player to shoot in the 60s all four rounds.
The 29-year-old American now has six LPGA titles.
Gaby Lopez, one of three players to hold the lead during the final round, experienced an up-and-down day, cooling after a hot front nine to finish third at 12-under.
Playing alongside top ranked Nelly Korda and Annika Sorenstam — a 72-time LPGA champion — Lopez found the experience to be valuable and educational.
“Starting Sunday with the World No.1 and Annika? It’s exactly where I want to be,” she said.
Korda, who took a one-shot lead into Sunday, shot 75 and slid to a tie for fourth with Celine Boutier (71) at 10-under.
Korda did not make her first birdie of the round until the 15th hole. It certainly wasn’t a continuation of her first 54 holes, when Korda made 16 birdies and an eagle.
“Overall, you know, I didn’t play very good, but I’m going to take some positives away from this week, and hopefully I can kind of take it into the next two,” she said.
She plans to play the LPGA’s first three events in Florida, then take six weeks off, creating her own off-season after a long and highly successful 2021 campaign.
Sorenstam and former MLB pitcher Derek Lowe battled it out for the title in the celebrity division with the World Golf Hall of Famer stunned when the latter rolled in a 25-footer for birdie on the first extra hole.