Megan Kang plays more than herself at the US Women’s Open

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SOUTH PINES, NC – When she was barely out of childhood, Megan Khan was hitting golf balls out of her parents’ garage in Massachusetts, where her father, then a mechanic, repaired cars. Every once in a while, tempered orbs — her favorite was emblazoned with the Pokémon logo — would sail through the training net to his desk.

Lee Khang never cared about the distraction as he was fully invested in his daughter’s budding skills, eventually retiring from his full-time business and quitting a garage he was running in Rhode Island to support Megan’s dream of playing professionally.

That sacrifice was among the many in Meghan’s family made for their daughter, who climbed to the top on Friday at the US Women’s Open by four-under-67 in the second round, leaving her five shots off the 36-hole lead shared by Mina Harigai. and Minjee Lee.

South Korea’s Hae Jin Choi 7-under 64, the championship’s low-round tie, jumped to second, two points off the lead. She is related to Anna Nordqvist. Swedish colleague Ingrid Lindblad, The amateur who opened with an amazing score of 65they fired 71 parallel and three shots in the rear.

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After her tour, Khang—who honored six birds and two ghosts in far more pleasant conditions than the opening round, played in sweltering heat and humidity—talked about the lengths her parents went to achieve the American Dream for themselves and their daughter.

“My dad and mom took a chance,” she said, “and look where we are now.” “We are very fortunate that it worked out that way.”

Her parents were children when they fled Laos with their families after the Vietnam War. Meghan noted that they don’t remember much of that time, with flashing memories of having to wait in Thailand before being granted asylum in the United States.

When Lee Khang was seven, his older brothers arranged for a six-passenger boat to carry a dozen or so family members across the Mekong River to Thailand. They passed through checkpoints spraying guards to allow passage and eventually settled in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, thanks to American sponsorship.

US Women’s Open Leaderboard

“This is a scary thing to do at any age, let alone a child’s age,” Khang said of her family’s harrowing journey. “My parents and grandparents were very brave in that sense, so I’m just trying to make them all proud and also be proud of myself.”

Meghan’s father learned golf reading books detailing the sport and taught himself to play when he was in his twenties. Her mother, Nu, started working at the age of 16, attended college and became a teacher.

After Lee quit the machining job, the Khangs were earning their outlays solely on Nou’s educational income, hardly enough to allow for golf club membership.

Kang, 24, said she may have been one of three Asian students in her high school, but her parents made sure to keep her an integral part of the Hmong culture by attending events such as Hmong New Year parties, often with other relatives. However, they did not teach her to speak the Hmong language, lest it interfere with her English proficiency.

Khang’s parents have not returned to Laos since arriving in America in the mid-1970s, but the entire family is keeping the possibility of a return visit open so Meghan can get a better understanding of her roots. She is the only player on the LPGA Tour in Hmong and Laotian Downs.

Her family background also broadened Khang’s perspective around the world. Among her endeavors off the golf course is to raise awareness of the need for potable water in Africa through her work with Golf Fore Africa.

Founded in 2007 by Betsy King after the Hall of Fame golfer had traveled to Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia the previous year, the charity funds wells in rural communities on the continent that would otherwise have limited access to clean drinking water.

The foundation is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Khang has been involved with a supporter years ago and first learned about the mission of Golf Fore Africa through her playing partners.

“Two women I’ve played with were like, ‘Do you want to start yourself off well?'” ‘ said Khang. ‘I was like, ‘Yeah, I like it.’ I mean, I can’t really see a reason not to; I want to start one and grow it.”

Meanwhile, Khang’s parents have been following their daughter all this week, attending their first major tournament since the tournament’s inception. Corona Virus pandemic.

During the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, Khang earned her first five of her top five at a major tournament, finishing fifth in the US Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston. She reinforced this by taking fourth place at the US Women’s Open last year at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Khang has six of the top 10 majors of his career, but falls short of a chance to win the first major tournament of the year, the Chevron Championship, formerly known as Inspiration, held annually at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

“It’s definitely still work in progress,” Khang said of the failures she has come close to taking in the majors. “The leaderboards are all over the place, and at the end of the day I know that if I do my job there and do my best, the results will come, the birds will come and the results will come at the end of that.”