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NORTON, Massachusetts – Megan Khang is as driven as anybody on the LPGA Tour to compete at the top level on a consistent basis. But perhaps even more important to her golf career is keeping things fun and giving people, especially young golf enthusiasts, experiences they will remember for a lifetime.
Khang, 22, is from Rockland and is one of only two LPGA tour players from the Bay State. (Brittany Altomare is the other.) The 2011 and 2012 Massachusetts Girls Junior Amateur Champion is still seeking her first LPGA Tour win, but over the past two seasons, she’s had three top-10 finishes at majors and made her first Solheim Cup team.
Khang turned pro at age 18 and has only played one event in her fifth tour season, which is currently suspended until at least mid-June due to COVID-19. These months off from touring, however, has allowed Khang to showcase her down-to-earth personality, often tweeting about popular TV shows or attempting new food recipes all while practicing social distancing from home. These things fit well with her motto of wanting to be ‘Just Megan.’
Mass Golf caught up with Khang to talk about her various experiences over the past few years, everything from pep talks to hilarious shouts from the gallery, social media snafus, and impromptu “choreographed” dances.
This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.
Mass Golf: This situation must be weird for you. Is this the longest you’ve gone without being out there playing or training?
Megan Khang: This is definitely the longest I’ve been home in general in a long time, I think since high school. So, it’s definitely weird for me, but we’re trying to make the best of it. My dad set up a net in our driveway and I’ve been swinging in my kitchen, just rehearsing the golf swing and doing what I can. We can’t force anything because nobody wants to be responsible for somebody getting the virus.
MG: What do you miss about being on the LPGA Tour?
MK: I miss my friends on tour. We’re FaceTiming once in a while, but I’m used to having dinners with them, talking about our days, and rooming with them. I just miss everything about it. It’s great being home and seeing my family, but it’s been so long since I’ve been stuck home, so I don’t really know what to do because you can’t do anything right now.
MG: Has anyone else been reaching out to you besides the other tour players during this downtime?
MK: I know in Arizona I have a little girl I see every year ever since I’ve played in the pro-am there. I was looking forward to seeing her, and she heard the news about our tournament getting canceled and I felt so bad. I messaged her, and was like, ‘I can’t wait to see you again and catch up with you guys.’
We met when her father’s friend was playing in the pro-am. Her name is Kylie and she was so cute just walking along with our group. We were waiting on the tee box of the second hole, you have to hit over the water. The group in front of us was still on the fairway, and I looked at her and said, ‘Hey, do you want to hit a ball?’ And she was like, ‘What?’ So, I gave her a ball, and she striped it over the water, and she was so happy. The thing is, she brought her own club, which is even better.
Now it’s like a yearly thing, and it’s the cutest thing. She comes out and watches, and her parents take her out of school. She’ll send me trick shot videos once in a while. It’s like the cutest thing. I felt bad that I couldn’t see her this year. I wouldn’t call her a fan, she’s like a friend.
MG: Do you encounter other young ladies and girls on the tour who show up at different stops?
MK: There’s one other girl whose name is Brooklyn, whose dad will take her out on the west coast. It’s super cool to see how passionate she is about the game. Her eyes brighten up when she sees her favorite golfers. We just chat here or there, and it’s fun.
MG: Are those experiences humbling?
MK: I try not to think about it. I take it in as like, ‘I’m just Megan, please don’t put me on a pedestal.’ It’s so flattering to have them think that.
MG: I like that ‘I’m just Megan’ motto.
MG: Following you on Twitter, we see you’re a big TV person. What shows are you watching right now?
MK: The O.C. I started watching it on Hulu. They took it off and I had one season left to go, so now I don’t know what else to do. I heard Tiger King was going to be good, so I gave that a shot. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. It’s super cool, the exotic animals, but it’s like, ‘What’s the point of this?’
MG: You’re a big Bachelor/Bachelorette fan, too, right?
MK: I really wasn’t at first, it’s only recently. I had watched Hannah Brown’s season here and there. I like her a lot. She’s funny and very normal and approachable. She’s doing her thing. I love Tyler Cameron, and I want them to be together. I decided to watch this past season, and it was not great, so I was very vocal about that on Twitter.
MG: Are you engaging more with people on Twitter or Instagram?
MK: I don’t know what to tweet sometimes, so I’ll go back to Instagram. On Instagram, I’ll do the polls and stuff like that. I do better with Instagram, but I do get a lot of feedback when I do tweet. If I just want to talk, I’ll go to Twitter.
I hadn’t used Twitter in a long time, and then just this past year I decided to get back on it. One of the new features was putting in your birthday. As soon as I clicked saved, it says, ‘It looks like you were too young to create this Twitter account when it was made.’ I think the age is like 13, and I was like 12 ½ when I made it, so I got locked out of my account for almost a year. That’s why I wasn’t tweeting. I constantly was sending emails like, ‘I am old enough.’
MG: We saw that you just recently watched “Happy Gilmore” for the first time. What’s the deal, do you ladies not watch movies on tour?
MK: With all the spare time, a friend of mine was like, “Megan, let’s watch ‘Happy Gilmore.'” They were like, ‘You’ve seen it!’ and I was like, ‘I really haven’t.’ And they were shocked. They looked at me and were like, ‘You’re a professional golfer.’ So, they popped it on, and we watched it.
MG: What did you think?
MK: Everybody knows the scene where [Adam Sandler] yells, ‘Get in your home.’ I’ve done that on the course. I do it very quietly. But I’m like, ‘Go home! Why won’t you just go home?!’ My caddie looks at me and he’s like, ‘You’ve got issues.’
MG: Speaking of your caddie, do you miss him? Do you chat often?
MK: Throughout this whole break, I think I’ve only talked to him twice. We’re friends, but when we’re away, we just stay away because when we’re on tour, we’re around each other day in, day out so we need a break. It’s a very professional friendship. We always joke around. He lets me do a lot of the talking.
MG: Speaking of talking, what is your mental preparation like?
MK: I’m pretty much a ‘let’s have fun and see how it goes’ type of person. I don’t really like to overthink things because when I do that, it’s not good for me. Most of the time, I like to have fun, and if I’m not feeling too great about a certain thing, I give myself a pep talk.
The first tournament this season feels like forever ago, it was in January, and I wasn’t super confident in my putting. And so, before the week started, I looked at my caddy and told him that I need you to blow smoke up my butt. I said, ‘just be my cheerleader, OK?’ He did a really good job. Every time we got to the green, he’s like, ‘You got this, you’re a great putter, you make everything, Megan’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah I do.’ For me, if I’m feeling like I’m getting in a slump, there’s a pep talk I give myself, or I’ll tell my caddy to give the pep talk for me.
MG: Is it disappointing having to wait so long to return to play after coming off a strong season last year?
MK: As much as I’d like to be on tour, I can understand why we’re not. In the end, health trumps everything else. If it’s not necessarily safe to be outside, then there’s no way we should be having events like that. In the end, golf is always going to be there, but you can’t take your health for granted. I know our LPGA Tour team is doing its best to see what they can make for the rest of the season. I think in our situation, it’s better safe than sorry. You just want to stay healthy and do your part in making sure [COVID-19] clears out as fast as possible.
MG: The U.S. Women’s Open will be in December now. What do you think of that?
MK: It’ll be interesting considering it’s in Texas, and I don’t know how the weather is in Texas in December, but if it’s cooler, I don’t have a problem with that. Honestly, I’m so happy they still have it on the schedule. Hopefully, it stays on schedule, and I’ll be there.
MG: Do you feel like you get a lot of love from Massachusetts?
MK: I do. I love calling Massachusetts home. The support is immense and incredible. I get texts from people once in a while, and it just shows how close people are. It’s a small community, especially in the golf world.
MG: What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself since turning pro at 18?
MK: I learned I’m a lot more capable than I thought I was, in terms of being creative and committing to some shots that I didn’t think I could do. I learned that I can do anything as long as I commit 100% and as long as I don’t get ahead of myself. I’m a little bit of a hothead, but I’ve learned to calm myself down from the years on tour. I’ve learned, as long as you give 100%, you can’t be mad at the result.
MG: Is there anybody you’re always looking forward to seeing or enjoy being paired up with?
MK: I like playing with Nelly Korda, Annie Park, Lydia Ko, Danielle Lee and Alison Lee. Lydia and I are the same age, and it’s weird because I watched her on TV when I was still at home. I like playing with Lydia because I like to see how she handles every situation. I like to watch how she takes it all in and how cool-tempered she is.
MG: Was making the Solheim Cup always a goal for you?
MK: It was always a goal, even in my junior career because I made the junior Solheim Cup. When I was part of that team, I just knew I wanted to be part of the actual Solheim Cup. The team bond and team play, you don’t really get that in golf. It’s so different when there’s only 10 of you and you’re representing your country, which is one of the highest honors. It was nice that I made it on points, not relying on the captain’s pick because I want to feel like I did the work to make it onto this team.
MG: Any fun stories from that first experience?
MK: It was super special to have Julie Inkster as my first Solheim Cup captain. At the end of it, we were all sharing stories of first tees. I never had the first chance to hit a tee shot until the singles match. I’ll never forget this. I’m getting ready to hit, and I am loving the crowd. I’m behind the ball, and I’m stepping into my shot, and somebody yells, ‘You take that club and you spank that ball!’ I could not hold my laugh and I had to back off. I’m dying laughing, and I’m still giggling over the ball.
MG: Sounds like these team events are a lot of fun.
MK: Yeah. I was playing with Annie [Park] in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Annie and I had a handshake for every birdie. We even had a walkup song on the last hole because the last hole is a par 3. Our song was “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo. And people think we choreographed that dance walking up, but we did not. That’s just how Annie and I are. We had driven from Arizona to California together, and that’s just us. We wanted another song to be played, but we changed it that morning, so we didn’t know what it was going to be, but either way, we’re dancing.
MG: What’s the next goal? Is it to get your first pro win?
MK: I’ve got my goals, and to win an event is definitely No. 1 right now. Right now, I just need to stay within myself, stay more consistent at the top, keep knocking at the door, and when the opportunity presents itself, step through and get that first win. Hopefully, I can win multiple events in a year, and I just want to keep giving myself the opportunity to try and breakthrough. I know the more comfortable and consistent I am at the top, it’s going to slightly be easier to walk through and go, ‘This is mine.’
MG: What advice would you have for any junior golfer?
MK: Know what you need to work on and always give it 100% because you never want to look back and say, ‘I could’ve done it if I tried harder.’ You always want to make sure that if you fail, you know you did it 100%, and if you succeed, you just believe you can definitely do it better next time. Always trust and believe in yourself because golf is such a hard and finicky game. You just have to let go and remember how good you are and stay confident when you’re not doing so well.
And always keep it fun. Have games and competitions. Have a putting contest. And always try to make it interesting. Golf is an individual sport, and if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?
MG: OK, we have some rapid-fire questions to wrap this up:
MG: Hot coffee or iced coffee?
MG: Driver or putter?
MG: Beach or mountains?
MG: Favorite genre of music?
MG: Dream vacation spot?
MG: I never leave home without … ?
MK: My phone and wallet.
MG: If you could’ve gone pro in any other sport, what would it be?
MG: Person you’d want to play in a head-to-head match?
MK: Tiger Woods. That match might not end well in my favor.
MG: Any weird superstitions?
MK: I don’t like playing golf with an even-numbered ball.
MG: What is your favorite part of growing up in Massachusetts?
MK: Multiple seasons.
MG: Finally, what’s your favorite thing to cook during quarantine?
MK: I make a mean steak and cheese, but I’m going to practice my buffalo chicken dip. I like to dip little mini tortilla chips into it.