If LPGA Tour player Danielle Kang and former Bull Toni Kukoc thought hitting a golf ball onto a floating green in the Chicago River was about as difficult as Chicago could make such an exhibition, then Kang is as unfamiliar with the city as she professed to be. And Kukoc should just know better.Just as Kang was sizing up her pitch from 87 yards away Monday, thunder clapped and a light rain started to fall. Plunk, into the river. Kukoc and Kang traded a few more swings. Miss, miss, miss and an oh-so-close from Kang.“I only had two clubs, not that that’s an excuse — that’s actually good — but it was hard, obviously,” said Kukoc, Kang’s surprise celebrity opponent at the exhibition to promote the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. “The wind moves the ball, and that green is not that big. … A lot of people said you’ve got to hit the inside of the ball to draw the ball. I cannot differentiate the inside of the ball (from) the outside of the ball. The ball is so small from up here, from 6-11.”During an earlier panel discussion with LPGA and KPMG officials, Kang — who will defend her Women’s PGA title June 28 to July 1 at Kemper Lakes in Kildeer — spoke of the perseverence she displayed during last year’s nailbiter at Olympia Fields. She looked out of the window and mused about Monday’s closest-to-the-pin contest with Kukoc: “What could possibly go wrong? ‘Oh, it’s raining today?’ Oh, it’s fine.”

Kang, 25, said little has changed for her since she won a major for her first LPGA Tour victory, except her friends joke that she’s too “big time” now to pick up the phone. But she did acknowledge it was a monkey off her back.“I think I’m happier now that the little win has freed me from my own chains,” she said.Winning again at Kemper Lakes would be an “amazing accomplishment,” Kang said, and there just might be something in the stars with Chicago.“I was talking to Toni earlier about that: The fans here are, ‘Go, Chicago!’ — they’re passionate,” Kang said. “My friend used to be on the Triple-A minor-league team for the Cubs. I wore the Cubs sweatshirt. Everywhere I went, somebody shouted, ‘Go, Cubs!’ I’m at the airport, ‘Go, Cubs!’

“I think it’s incredible I won it here and that it was this tournament and then we’re back here. What are the chances?”Kang and Kukoc bonded despite the dreary weather for golf.“He caught the disease,” Kang said. “I could hear the passion in his voice about golfing — he’s golf-crazed.”Kukoc said Golf Channel is “pretty much the only channel that is on 24 hours a day in my house, and we argue a lot about how we can cancel most of the channels and just keep that one. I don’t know why (but) 16, 17 years ago, I caught a bug of golf.”The three-time NBA champion with the mid-’90s Bulls, Kukoc devotes at least some time to watching the current crop as a special adviser to President and COO Michael Reinsdorf.“It is a long way (to go), but the guys we have are young, good basketball players — they’ve just got to play together,” he said. “I would prefer bigger guys (in the draft) just from how I see the makeup of the team. Then it’s just about the chemistry. … We had a bunch of guys, but they did not play together (last season). They collected probably 20, maybe 30 games together. It’s not enough for a serious basketball team to go someplace.”ptlhompson@chicagotribune.comTwitter @_phil_thompsonBulls’ Bobby Portis and Blackhawks’ Anthony Duclair go big for Mother’s Day »Tiger Woods shoots 65, his lowest score ever at Players »Webb Simpson completes a big win at Players Championship »


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