Las Vegas’ Danielle Kang seeks 2nd major title at Inspiration

Danielle Kang looks on from the first green during the final round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)Danielle Kang watches her shot from the second tee during the final round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)Danielle Kang plays her shot from the 13th tee during the first round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)Danielle Kang lines up a putt on the 12th green during the first round of the Kia Classic LPGA golf tournament, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Carlsbad, Calif. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)

Danielle Kang, a Las Vegas resident and two-time LPGA Tour champion, is finally happy and healthy following several months of struggle.

Last week, she finished tied for second at the Kia Classic and has momentum heading into her 7:55 a.m. Thursday tee time at the Ana Inspiration, the season’s first major that is played at the Dinah Shore course in Rancho Mirage, California.

Other Las Vegas pros playing are Allison Lee, Jenny Shin and Inbee Park, the 7-time major champion and two-time Nevada state high school champion (Bishop Gorman.)

“I wasn’t doing very well health-wise the last few months and there was a lot going on,” said Kang, who didn’t want to divulge specifics about her medical issues that resulted in three hospital visits. “I consider the Kia my first tournament of the year that I was physically and mentally well. I felt fantastic. I now know there are things I can do to take care of myself.”

Kang, winner of the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA championship, a major, said she believes her recent success is the result of good health and a relatively new partnership with famed swing coach Butch Harmon, a Henderson resident.

“I love that man and think he is a brilliant guy on and off the course,” Kang said about Harmon. “I call him a wizard because even though you don’t know something is working, it is.

“I trust him with my game and he believes in me. When he believes, he’s 100,000 percent behind you. When he says you can do it, it gives you the confidence to know you can do it.”

Kang’s sprits have also been buoyed by Maverick McNealy, a fellow professional golfer and Las Vegas resident. Kang and McNealy are dating and met at the Summit Club, where both are members.

The two are competitive and Kang isn’t afraid to boast a little as she did after last weekend when she made more birdies and finished better than McNealy to win a dinner. Kang made 20 birdies and an eagle en route to her runner-up finish at the Kia Classic to win the bet. McNealy managed only six birdies and finished tied for 52nd at the Web Tour’s Savannah Golf Championship in Georgia.

Beginning this week, Kang’s birdies will do more than earn her a meal. She is partnering with UNICEF during 11 tournaments and fans can pledge to the “Danielle Kang Birdies to Build Better Futures” campaign. Kang recently visited the Dominican Republic to learn how the donations will make a positive impact.

Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt can be reached at bhurlburt5 or .

LPGA Tour

What: ANA Inspiration.

When: Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 4-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel).

Where: Rancho Mirage, California; Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore Tournament) (6,763 yards, par 72).

Defending champion: Pernilla Lindberg.