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Kang retains US Women's Am Championship

Danielle Kang successfully defended her U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on Sunday at the Rhode Island Country Club.

The 18-year-old from Thousand Oaks, California defeated Morija Jutanugarn of Thailand 6 and 5, going 10 under through 31 holes.

“It’s the best I’ve played in a major championship,” Kang said. “I brought it on.”

The sophomore from Pepperdine University toted up 11 birdies to leave Jutanugarn, 17, in here wake.

Both had defeated five opponents in route to Sunday’s championship clash, but the American walked away with victory in some style, hitting 23 of 26 fairways and 25 of 31 greens.

“I feel like I played bad,” said Jutanugarn, who herself was 4 under and has been in the U.S.  playing a dozen tournaments in the build-up to the championship match.

Kang is the first player in 15 years to win back-to-back championships, joining luminaries such as Margaret Curtis, LPGA founder Betty Jameson and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster.

Since winning her first Women’s Amateur title last year, Kang has played in four LPGA major championships, achieving amateur honors at the Women’s British Open earlier this month.

Kang plans to turn professional immediately after the Women’s Am, and could begin attempts at LPGA qualifying rounds as early as this week.

“Every time an amateur decides to turn pro, they always think, ‘Am I ready?’ ” Kang said. “That's what they ask themselves. Now I know that I am, and I have to go to the next level.”

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