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Danielle Kang confirms she's playing USWO with tumor on her spine

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SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. –  Danielle Kang confirmed that she has a tumor on her spine, following the second round of the U.S. Women's Open.

Kang will undergo additional procedures and tests to determine treatment options and to learn whether the tumor is malignant or benign.

“My goal is to play this week. I didn't want to miss it,” Kang said Friday after opening rounds of 71-74, which was good enough to make the cut on the number. “I'm really happy that I'm here. It's been a difficult road, but I'm pretty stoked that I'm able to hit certain shots, and I feel like my game is a little bit there.”

Kang didn’t expect to address her health during the second major championship of the year. But on Thursday, her brother, Alex, posted on Instagram a message in support of his sister that said: “@daniellekang looking good! Play well this week at the @uswomensopen only person I know to be playing with a tumor in her spine…. So determined.”

Danielle Kang is particularly close with her brother, who is also a professional golfer. Notably, she relied on his insights en route to victory at the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club, where he had previously played and shared notes with his sister on how to navigate the course. Kang’s mother, Grace, is on-site with her daughter at Pine Needles and was by her side as she answered questions from the media about her health.

Kang’s father, who caddied for her in her back-to-back U.S. Women’s Amateur victories, died after a battle with lung and brain cancer in 2013.

“We’re doing a lot of process of elimination with it so I can be healthy for the longevity of my career,” Kang said about the tests she’s undergone. “End of the day, my priority No. 1 is to be pain free.”

Full-field scores from the U.S. Women’s Open

Kang says she’s worked with a number of doctors as well as her physiotherapist to be able to compete this week. Throughout the second round, however, she was seen stretching and grabbing her back.

In April, Kang withdrew after the first round of the Lotte Championship. The following week, she returned at the DIO Implant LA Open, where she completed four rounds but withdrew from the next week’s Palos Verdes Championship. That week, she posted a statement on Instagram, saying in part: “This has been rough and thank you to everyone that tried to help me through the last 4 weeks of competition. However, I played through last week and now at this undulated course I was barely making it up the hill much less hit an upslope shot.”

Four weeks later, Kang returned to competition but didn't make it out of pool play at the Bank of Hope Match Play on her home course of Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. She has already withdrawn from the next two events on the LPGA Tour schedule — the ShopRite LPGA Classic and Meijer LPGA Classic.

After the U.S. Women’s Open, Kang says she intends to undergo additional tests to learn more about her prognosis going forward with an undetermined return to the tour.

“Could be a week, it could be months. I don't know the answer,” Kang said. “I'm actually doing everything I can. I don't know how to answer these things right now. I don't have all the answers.”