Danielle Kang nearly slam-dunks ace, contending after time with Gretzky and MJ

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Danielle Kang ended a 17-month winless drought last week at the LPGA’s season-opening event. Now, she’d like to repeat a feat from nearly a year and a half ago.

Kang won the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship and then the following week’s Marathon LPGA Classic.

After Thursday’s performance, she’s in position again for back-to-back wins.

Kang shot 7-under 65 in Round 1 of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio to trail leader Lydia Ko by two strokes. She made eight birdies and one bogey – and nearly, one ace.

With a 9-iron from 131 yards at the par-3 17th, Kang’s tee shot tried to slam-dunk into the hole, but was rejected by the flagstick. The ball kicked away 15 feet, from where Kang made birdie, anyway.

Kang comes within inches of a hole-in-one

A winner last week at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, it's been a fun few days for Kang. In between competitive starts, she visited Wayne and Janet Gretzky, whom she calls her "second family,"  in South Florida, celebrated The Great One's 61st birthday and played golf at Michael Jordan's Grove XIII course.

"It's one of the coolest places ever," Kang said. "[Jordan] comes up and says, 'Hi,' and says, 'Hey, DK, you won last week, congrats.' I'm just staring at him. This is Michael Jordan. It's so cool."

While Kang was able to carry over the momentum from Lake Nona, where she secured her sixth career LPGA win, she wasn't completely comfortable on Thursday. She told Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz that she'll be back in contact with coach Butch Harmon to help fine-tune her game – both technically and mentally.

"I hit some weird shots today. It's a little different because last week all the left were the biggest troubles and this week all the right are the biggest troubles," she said.

"I think I'm focused too much on how to guide the ball more so than just hitting it. But I don't mind it. It is what it is. Trying to hit the best shot I can hit, and I hit some really great drives and really bad drives, and I'm OK with that; made some good putts."