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Len Ziehm On Golf

Stomach problems hamper start of Kang’s title defense

Danielle Kang began the defense of her title in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship Thursday in less than impressive fashion. She shot 73 at soggy Kemper Lakes, and it was not a pretty site.

At one point Kang was doubled over in pain, the cause of which she suspected was the waffles she had for breakfast.

“I tried to keep it under wraps the whole day, but I had a really bad stomachache before I even teed off,’’ said Kang. “I threw up after nine and just kept trying to not feel it.’’

She wasn’t all too successful at that, and it didn’t help that she was paired with Inbee Park and Ariya Jutanugarn, the Nos. 1- and 2-ranked players in the world. Jutanugarn shot 72 and Park matched Kang’s 73.

“We had the (TV) camera following us all day, and I didn’t want to throw up on camera,’’ she said. “I went to the Port-a-Potty a couple times to do it, but the Port-a-Potties are so gross. What are you going to do? It’s not the food, it’s me. I’m just really sensitive. I don’t eat eggs, I don’t eat sausages because I’ve gotten food poisoning off of those. I just don’t feel good. I think it’s just some crap that I ate this morning.’’

While her stomach was sub-par, Kang didn’t feel her golf game was.

“I’m hitting the ball great, so I hope I feel better for the next three days,’’ she said. “I should feel better by tomorrow.’’

WHO’S NO. 1?: The top spot in the Rolex World Rankings is on the line this week and any one of five players could be No. 1 after the last putt drops on Sunday. One is So Yeon Ryu, who is currently No. 5. Last year she moved into the top spot during KPMG Women’s PGA Championship week at Olympia Fields.

“When I was No. 1 I didn’t realize how much pressure I was under,’’ said Ryu, “After I dropped in the ranking I realized there was a lot, but it was definitely worth it. As a professional golfer it’s a huge honor to become the No. 1 player in the world. I really want to get back to that position. Hopefully I’m going to win this tournament and become No. 1 again.’’

The four players ahead of Ryu are fellow Korean Park, Jutanugarn of Thailand, American Lexi Thompson and Shanshan Feng of China.

RAIN, RAIN STAY AWAY: Veteran Brittany Lincicome had no complaints with the Kemper Lakes course, even though it showed the effects of the recent heavy rains.

“I wish we wouldn’t have gotten all that rain because it would have been cool to see it play more firm and fast but, again, being a long hitter, the longer the better for me,’’ said Lincicome. `The course is in great shape. There’s not very many divots, the greens are rolling pure and the rough is nice and thick. I love it.’’

She’s a happy camper as far as things are going off the course as well.

“Just the way they’re treating us in the clubhouse and dining, it’s a wonderful week,’’ she said. “I wish we had way more of these events.’’

Here and there

Thursday’s first round of the Web.com Tour’s Land of Lincoln Championship at Panther Creek in Springfield was good for Chicago players. Nick Hardy and Carlos Sainz Jr. shot 65s and are tied for sixth place and Brad Hopfinger carded a 68 and is tied for 35th.

This is a year for unfortunate tournament scheduling, not just in Chicago where the KPMG tourney goes head-to-head with the Women’s Western Amateur, but nationally as well. The women’s event isn’t the only major on tap this week. The U.S. Senior Open, conducted by the U.S. Golf Association, also teed off on Thursday at The Broadmoor in Colorado. Four Chicago players are competing – Champions Tour veteran Jeff Sluman plus pros Roy Biancalana and Gary March and amateur Glenn Przbylski, all survivors of the nation-wide qualifying rounds.

A record round was recorded during the 36-hole stroke play qualifying at the 118th Women’s Western Amateur, which is in progress at Mistwood in Romeoville. Emilee Hoffman of Folsom, Calif., carded a 7-under-par 65, which tied the Mistwood women’s record set by Aimee Neff en route to her victory in the 2008 Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open. Hoffman, who also matched the tournament’s stroke play record set by Carol Semple Thompson in 1991 at Firethorn in Nebraska, was the Mistwood medalist. Match play there runs through Saturday.