LPGA Takeaway: Why Winning the U.S. Women's Open Meant Everything to Brittany Lang
Brittany Lang finally capitalized on 11 largely consistent years of LPGA Tour golf with a win at the 2016 U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle. The four-time Team USA Solheim Cup member was undefeated in singles play until losing to Europe's Melissa Reid in 2015. Her first win on the tour came at the 2012 LPGA Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, where she triumphed in a four-person playoff by birdieing the 18th four consecutive times. Note: This interview was conducted at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, ahead of Lang's first major victory at the U.S. Women's Open.
You came second in the U.S. Open in 2005 and second in the British Open in 2011. You've been so close to cracking that major win! What's your strategy going forward to finally break through?
I have a really good game for majors. I'm a really good ball striker. And I hit it a long way and I hit it high. I think it's a good ball flight for majors, especially U.S. Opens. I've started to putt probably the best I've ever putted this year. And that's just what needs to be done, you know? The players that win the majors make so many putts. I think I'm starting to do that. I really think to break through, I need to keep confidence with my putter and keep mentally strong and I think I'll get there.
What's something you struggled with or want to improve so far this season?
I'm having a great year. I would definitely say my biggest challenge is consistency. I know I have the game to play out here, obviously -- I've been out here 11 years, I've had good years. I find it a challenge to be really consistent week in and week out. I want to be able to, when I don't have my A-game -- which I've done a good job of this year -- still contend or be around the top-area. I don't know what it is. I've been here 11 years and I'm still trying to figure it out. I would love to be able to be in the mix more often. Those are my goals this year and I've been doing well with it this year so far.
Would you rather win a Solheim Cup, a major or a gold medal?
The Solheim Cups are very special [wins] to me because we don't get to play in team atmospheres…and you can't describe how fun it is. And I have two of those, and I don't have any majors, and the Solheim Cups are an absolute dream come true. You think of the players who have played on Solheim Cups and paved the way. But between the three, I would choose to win a major championship -- I couldn't believe how exhilarating that would be.
I hope so!
What would it mean to you to win a U.S. Women's Open?
Oh my gosh, absolutely everything. To win a U.S. Women's Open, that's every American girl's dream growing up. I can't speak for the other countries, but when I was 12 and 13 watching Karrie and Annika play…winning the U.S. Open is top notch. It would be so cool to say you won your country's open. It would be special. And it's always at a great venue and the USGA does such a great job. I've been close a lot, and it would be unbelievable.
So the women have a U.S. Open, what about a Women's Masters?
You know, the men's Masters is my favorite tournament to watch. It's great. Should the women have a Masters? No. To play a tournament at Augusta would be unreal. Do I think we need to do it? No. The ANA is definitely comparable to the Masters. We don't have to be exactly like the men. We have so much history there, it's a great golf course, the history is great, and we've been there so long that it's pretty much like our Masters. I would give anything to play a tournament at Augusta, that would be a dream come true. But if it doesn't, I don't think the women need a Masters.
How have you seen the LPGA Tour change over your time on Tour? Does seeing young teenage stars running up the leaderboard each week add to some of your own inconsistencies?
Yeah, the LPGA has changed a lot. I joined in 2006 when it was booming with great tournaments and huge purses…and then I was with the LPGA when we didn't have many tournaments and the economy was down. But I always tell people that LPGA golf in 2016 is some of the best golf I have ever seen. We have great girls and great personalities, but the quality of golf being played is unbelievable. And you know, I feel like I've gotten better watching these girls; they're fearless, and they're aggressive, and it's fun to be a part of it because I'm getting better watching it.
So let's talk about the Olympics. What will it mean for women's golf to have the sport back in the Olympics in Rio?
Getting golf back into the Olympics is huge. I don't love the format of it. I think it needs to be a little more team-oriented. But I still think getting it back this year in Rio is going to gain some respect for golf and help raise golf. It will be great for it. I would love to play for it, but I would hope they change the format to make it more like a Solheim Cup, team thing.
Donald Trump has been in the news lately for a few controversial statements, but he's also been a big proponent and supporter of the women's game. What are your thoughts on the 2017 U.S. Women's Open being held at Trump Bedminster in New Jersey?
He's definitely a special person. He does support women's golf and I love it. I've seen the course in New Jersey, and all of his courses are, I think, awesome. I think for the women to play at and be associated with a Trump course is great and great for women's golf. Just like the women playing Sahalee or Westchester, it brings a lot of media for the women and really showcases how good they are. I think if we can be associated with something Trump-related for golf, it can only help women's golf.
What's something that you as an LPGA player can do on a regular basis to elevate the women's game?
Promoting women's golf is tough because I feel like if you just show up at an event, I don't think that it really does it justice. In order to make the game better, I think I just have to play a full schedule…when I play golf with these guys who are sponsoring the event -- men or women -- they play 18 holes with you and then they watch you play the tournament and they're like, ‘These girls are really good!' I feel like that's the best thing we can do: Have people watch, whether it's young talent or old talent doesn't really matter, just watch how good these women really are. As far as the quality of people on tour, we have such great girls. Everyone gets along great, they're so giving to charities. I think the world just needs to see more of how good these girls are out here; getting on the big networks, playing the big courses and such.
What's one thing people don't know about being a professional golfer that you think they should know?
It is so much more than just playing golf. I love playing golf and I have since I picked up a club at 10, but when I got here at 19 it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is travel, media things, outings,' and it's a great life, don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining and I love every minute of it! But you really have to learn how to say no, compartmentalize and really learn to focus on your golf.
What's one thing you would take away from your time on the LPGA?
The one thing that sticks out for me in my career is my professional win at Manulife in Canada. None of my family was there. My brother, he caddies for me, so he was there. It was just surreal, I remember that putt going in and I couldn't believe it. It was a beautiful day, he was there with me, and the emotion…it was a dream come true and hopefully I can have a few more of those with him.