Feng's coming to America
When Shanshan Feng was age 12, her English instructor in China asked if she had an American name. The affable Feng didn't have an Americanized first name but took on 'Jenny' as her first connection with the United States. That has developed into working with America-based instructor Gary Gilchrist at age 16, coming to the United States by herself the next year and now becoming the first Chinese player to win in the United States and in a major championship.
Feng faced adversity in learning the game. Beginning at age 10, following school from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., her parents took her to a local driving range in China to hit approximately 200 balls in the allotted two hours. She had a difficult time getting on the busy courses to play on the weekends and her short game suffered because of the lack of practice green facilities.
Feng's idol is Karrie Webb, who finished tied for sixth at the Wegmans LPGA. She has also known Tseng since they started playing junior golf against each other at age 13, and she shares the same coach, South African-born Gilchrist, with the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
The Wegmans LPGA victory made Feng the most successful Chinese golfer, male or female. Two Chinese men have won on the European Tour - Zhang Lian-wei at the 2003 Singapore Masters and Liang Wen-Chong at the 2007 Singapore Masters. Liang played in the 2007 PGA Championship and 2008 Masters and set a new course record, a 64, in the third round of the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. China's Andy Zhang, at age 14, became the youngest competitor in the men's U.S. Open this week when he got in as an alternate.
Feng's time in the winner's circle was due. She hasn't missed a cut this season and began the year with three finishes of top five or better on the LPGA. In March, she became the first Chinese woman to win on the Ladies European Tour with a win in China.
Here are a few of Feng's statistics at this point in the season:
|Greens in Regulation||71%||8|
|Rounds under par||20||3|
|Rolex Player of the Year||87||3|
All in the Piller family
Gerina Piller had a lot of knowledgeable support from outside of the ropes last week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Her husband, Martin, a Nationwide Tour member, was watching his wife complete her career-best tie for sixth finish.
Gerina, 27, shot a final-round 68 for her second career top-10 finish. The former Texas-El Paso All-American from Roswell, N.M., married Martin in January 2011 after they met playing golf in their hometown of Dallas. Martin was a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour in 2010 and earned his PGA Tour card for 2011. Gerina placed fifth on the Symetra Tour in 2010 to earn her LPGA card for 2011. They are believed to be the first husband-wife team to play their rookie seasons in the same year. Martin has even stepped inside the ropes with Gerina, caddying for her at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic.
When Piller made her seventh birdie of the day on the 16th hole in the final round of the Wegmans LPGA, she moved into a tie for first place at 5-under par. However, she hooked her drive into the left trees on the par-5 17th and made double bogey to fall back. In her previous two starts, Piller finished T15 at the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup and T23 at the ShopRite Classic.
Other husband-wife teams on both tours at the same time have included Bobby Cole and Laura Baugh, Allen Miller and Cindy Kessler, Frank Beard and Susie O'Connor and Chris Riley and Michelle Louviere.
Jodi Ewart had quite the touch on a trio of holes on Friday and Saturday at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. In the second round, she holed her second shot on the first hole (her 10th of the day) for an eagle-2. In the third round, she finished with an ace on the par-3 15th and an eagle on the par-5 17th. Ewart, a University of New Mexico graduate who is from England, is scheduled to be married in January. She finished T36 at the Wegmans LPGA.
Retiring with Grace
Veteran Grace Park, 33, announced her retirement from the LPGA during the Wegmans LPGA Championship last week.
Park came to the United States from South Korea at age 12 to pursue a golf career - first in Hawaii with family members and then to Arizona at age 14 alone. Her LPGA career included six victories, including the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship, and was hampered in the later years by a back injury.
Park has plans to marry Skye Kim in November.
Park and Se Ri Pak were instrumental in influencing the influx of South Korean golfers to the LPGA. In last week's Wegmans LPGA Championship, 16 of the 73 golfers who made the cut were South Koreans.
Yani Tseng has been No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Rankings for 70 consecutive weeks. The record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1 is held by Lorena Ochoa (158 weeks, from April 2007 to May 2010). Tseng hasn't won in five consecutive starts, her longest victory drought since she went seven consecutive events without a win in early 2011…The LPGA's next event next week is a new one, the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, approximately 70 miles from Toronto. The course is Grey Silo Golf Course, a par-72 links-style layout…Nineteen teenagers, including two 14-year-olds, qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, scheduled for July 5-8 at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.