Remember Patrick Reed firing up the crowd with his “shush” gesture in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles? Well, the “Captain America” on that occasion seems like a pussycat in comparison to the player in line to fill that role in this week’s Solheim Cup at the Perthshire venue.
By her own admission, Danielle Kang is “loud”. Also in her words, she is here to “take souls”, “crush” the Europeans and make them “cry”. Nice, eh? Oh, and she expects to be booed by the home crowd. “Bring it on,” said the 26-year-old Californian of that possibility.
It seems that Kang, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour, is a flamboyant individual. “You never know what you are going to get from her,” said someone who covers the US circuit on a regular basis of the world No 17. Maybe so, but even before her pre-match appearance in the media centre, Kang had offered a flavour about her personality.
On a golf.com podcast released in the build-up to the 16th edition of this particular transatlantic tussle, she didn’t hold back about her objective here as part of an American side bidding to make it three wins in a row under the captaincy of Juli Inkster. “You’re trying to take souls. You’re going there to make people cry at this point, just crush the other team. That’s the fun of it,” she said.
Fun. Really? It’s not normal to hear golfers talking about “taking souls” and wanting to make people “cry”. Yes, these team events have an edge to them, but the line is rarely crossed and shame on Kang for doing so in the countdown to this contest. Her comments about expecting to be booed are hardly likely to endear her, either, to a Scottish crowd bearing in mind that someone like Tom Watson, for instance, regularly made a point of highlighting how fans in the game’s cradle are renowned for being respectful to Americans.
Reflecting on her debut in the 2017 match in Des Moines, where she picked up three points of four in helping the home side win 16.5-11.5, Kang commented: “The crowds were incredible. The fact we were on US soil obviously made it better and I heard all the “U.S.A.” chants.
“However, since we’re in Scotland, I don’t know what I’m going to hear. I hear that I’m going to be booed at one point. So bring it on. It’s okay. You can boo me. I love rowdy crowds.
“I’d rather hear loud booing at that point. So I’ll still have them cheer as loud as they can, whoever they want to cheer for, but I still want to hear them. I’m just excited to hear the noise, whatever that may be. And, plus, they have an accent, so I’m sure it’s not going to even come out as b-o-o.”
Pressed by The Scotsman, Kang said been “told personally” that she was going to be booed but declined to reveal by whom. She then tried to brush it off as a joke. “Scottish men are very respectful and honourable,” she said. “And this is where the home of golf is, it’s where golf started, so I’m excited to see what the fans are going to be like, and I know I’m going to hear that “Olé” song as well. It’s definitely going to be a different vibe from Des Moines.”
Reed, pictured, became the pantomime villain here five years ago when he put his index finger to his lips to “shush” the vocal home crowd in the final-day singles. “I like noise. I can’t be shushed,” insisted Kang when reminded of that incident.
“I’m loud whether I’m in Nevada or in Scotland. I don’t think I change no matter where I am. I’m definitely going to embrace the first tee.
“I’m going to embrace whenever I get a chance to hit it. I’m going to embrace the fans out there for the entire golf course, whenever I get to play.
“I love match play golf. The fact that whether it’s a team game or singles, I like playing against one other person.
“I like to have a win or a loss instead of playing the entire field. I like to get some kind of feedback. Because golf, we lose most of the time. If you don’t win, you’re technically a loser. So it’s hard to win. But match play you just play one person. And the fact that I love about the team environment is you have a team-mate.
“And you get to play with them and for them and it’s kind of like a sisterhood, as when the men play it’s like a brotherhood. I love somebody having my back and I love having their back.
“Golf is a very lonely sport at one point where you’re out there all alone, you’re hitting the shot.
“You and your caddie are just there, and nobody really understands what you feel and how you felt over a shot like another player. And to be on the same team, and to approach that together to win a cup is pretty incredible.”
Catriona Matthew may feel that her European team doesn’t need “a ton of motivation”, but some of Kang’s comments will certainly do the job!