June 10, 2012
Feng Shanshan of China was not the marquee player expected to emerge as this year’s L.P.G.A. Championship winner, but she was the one who showed the most resilience in the thick and punitive rough at Locust Hill Country Club.
Feng minimized her encounters with the gnarly blades, posting a final-round score of five-under-par 67 to become the first player from China to win on the L.P.G.A. Tour. Her score was also the lowest of the week.
Feng finished the week’s major championship at six-under 282, showing no sign of nerves as the rough gobbled her challengers one by one. Her bogey-free round featured three birdies on the front nine and two on the back nine, including a clutch 7-foot birdie putt on No. 17. That birdie gave Feng a two-shot lead heading into the final hole.
“My goal this year was to win a tournament on the L.P.G.A. Tour, and another goal was to win a major championship,” said Feng, 22, of Guangzhou, who came to the United States at age 17 to go to school and play golf.
Japan’s Mika Miyazato (69), Stacy Lewis (70), Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (70) and South Korea’s Eun-Hee Ji (72) tied for second at four-under 284. Miyazato birdied three of her last six holes in a late charge.
Lewis struggled with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 before rolling in birdie putts on 12, 13 and 17. But Feng could not be caught.
“She went out and won it today, and it’s real impressive,” said Lewis, ranked No. 3 in the world. “She got out ahead of the leaders and posted the number. I gave it a good run.”
Ji began the final round with a one-shot lead but recorded bogeys on Nos. 9, 10 and 12. She fought back with birdies on three of her last six holes, clinging to her share of second with an 8-foot putt to save par on No. 18.
The Hall of Famer Karrie Webb of Australia made her own late charge, rolling in birdies on 16 and 17 to move into the group of players two shots back with one hole to play.
But she missed a 10-foot putt for par on the 18th hole and finished with a par 72, dropping into a tie for sixth at three-under 285 alongside Japan’s Ai Miyazato (68) and Gerina Piller (72).
Paula Creamer (71), Giulia Sergas of Italy (72) and Inbee Park of South Korea (72) tied for ninth at two-under 286.
Working with the instructor Gary Gilchrist at his Florida golf academy, Feng has trained her focus on winning on the L.P.G.A. Tour, of which she has been a member for five years. She had won on other tours around the world.
She won twice last year on the Japan L.P.G.A., as well as three weeks ago in Japan. In March, she became the first Chinese player to win on the women’s European tour.
Lewis said, “I was surprised she hasn’t won out here until now, but I knew it was coming.”
Feng said she had been motivated by the top-ranked Yani Tseng of Taiwan. The two played against each other as juniors in Asia.
“I was always trying to chase her,” said Feng, who moved to the No. 5 world ranking with her win. “Maybe I got a little closer.”
Although Feng is the first player from China to win on the L.P.G.A. Tour, she is not the first Chinese woman to win in the United States. Yang Hong Mei of Sichuan won on the Futures Tour in 2004 in El Paso. According to Feng, Yang showed girls in China that they could win golf tournaments abroad.
“She’s like a big sister, and she told us about playing golf in the United States,” said Feng, whose father works for the Chinese Golf Association and is the captain of China’s junior team.
“Golf in China is growing,” Feng added. “I believe in the future, China will be one of the strongest countries.”
Tseng, the event’s defending champion, carded a four-over 76 in the final round, finishing the week tied for 59th at 13-over 301.
Feng Shanshan was born on August 5th, 1989 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_Shanshan
August 5th, 1989
8 + 5 +2+0+1+1 = 17 = her personal year (from August 5th, 2011 to August 4th, 2012) = Inspired. Inspirational.
17 year + 6 (June) = 23 = her personal month (from June 5th, 2012 to July 4th, 2012) = Athlete. Sports.
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