BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Michelle Wie stood outside the media room at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as reporters strolled in to ask questions of champion Danielle Kang.
“She’s my ride,” Wie quipped.
Earlier, Wie had captured the 18th green trophy presentation on her cell phone for Kang. She panned the crowd and snapped a photo of Kang’s mother and caddie. Kang said she’s grateful to have a friend who looks out for her.
“Not a lot of people will do that,” said Kang. “She’s won before, she’s been there, she knows how media works, what pictures to take. Just making sure that things go smoothly. You can’t find that quality in people.”
Wie and Kang are so close they even co-write a blog together. On a recent car ride to an LPGA event in Arkansas, they were so excited about being paired together for the first time, the Solheim Cup hopefuls found an elaborate handshake online they could use to celebrate. At the KPMG, they put it to use.
Of course, theirs isn’t the only power friendship in the field. Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu go way back and were the first off on Monday for an 18-hole practice round at the U.S. Women’s Open. Like Wie and Kang, they are players to watch this week at Trump National Golf Club. Major winners who seek to inspire one another.
Together, Ryu and Park have three U.S. Women’s Open titles between them. Ryu, the current World No. 1, was at a steakhouse with seventh-ranked Park after her recent LPGA victory in Arkansas when she learned that she had taken over the top spot. Park was thrilled to make it a double celebration.
“She had her time where she had to look at me and learn from me and to congratulate me,” said Park, “and now I get that time to kind of give it back to her.”
Park won the Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympics and qualified for the LPGA Hall of Fame. She’s a seven-time major winner who spent 92 weeks at No. 1 from 2013 to 2015.
Park said they talk course strategy during practice rounds and push each other to work harder.
“We are actually very lucky to have each other,” said Park, “because we are a very good influence to each other.”
Ryu, who was a bridesmaid in Park’s wedding, said she learned the most by simply watching her best friend go about daily life.
“Like even when she was No. 1, she never changed,” said Ryu. “She never changed the behavior, like ‘I’m the No. 1.’ She never really reacted like I’m like the world’s best player, she was always a nice person.”
Earlier in the year it was Wie who encouraged Kang to stay the course. Kang, a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, won in her 144th start on the LPGA.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Wie of what this means for Kang’s career. “I think it just opened the floodgates.”
Of course, many thought the same thing of Wie after she won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst. A series of injuries, however, largely prevented that from happening.
“I thought I was going to win 15 more events,” said Wie. “You know, life doesn’t always happen that way.”
Wie, who comes into Trump National with three top-4 finishes in her last four events, appeared to have neck issues when she came into the press room on Tuesday at the U.S. Women’s Open. She was later seen going into the locker room for treatment on a neck spasm.