SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — Danielle Kang revealed Friday that she played the first two rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open with a tumor on her spine.
The 29-year-old, who is ranked No. 12 in the world, said that she learned of the diagnosis “a few weeks ago” and has undergone multiple tests but that it’s not clear yet whether the tumor is malignant or benign. She said doctors are also working to determine if the tumor is the cause of her back pain or a contributing factor.
She plans to have further tests next week and is uncertain how much playing time she will miss.
“I’ve gone through a lot of procedures so far, and with the process of elimination we are narrowing it down,” Kang said. “It’s going to take time.”
The American shot a 3-over 74 on Friday after an opening-round 71 at Pine Needles and was around the cut line with the afternoon wave on the course.
Kang has been dealing with back pain since early April, when she withdrew from the Lotte Championship. She pulled out of the Palos Verdes Championship later that month and hadn’t competed since.
“My goal right now is to get through this week,” Kang said. “I wanted to make the cut. I wanted to play four rounds out here and then my focus was going to be getting better after that. The only thing on my mind has been to play the U.S. Open.”
Kang said that she didn’t want to publicize the issue but that word began to leak out.
“I just don’t want to discuss the details of what is going on with my back,” she said. “My priority one is to be pain-free, and right now I’m not there yet.”
When asked how she felt playing Friday, Kang laughed and said, “I’m not feeling fantastic, but I’m playing golf, so that is good. I’m good enough to play, and all I wanted [is] to compete.”
Outside of a triple bogey on No. 1, Kang said she is happy with the way she played Friday considering she hasn’t practiced in “eight or nine weeks.”
Kang turned pro in 2011 and has won six LPGA Tour events, including one major, the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship. She has more than $7.5 million in career earnings.