This week’s debut LPGA event in mainland China could be viewed as a homecoming celebration for Shanshan Feng. Since winning the Wegmans LPGA Championship last year to become the first Chinese woman to win an LPGA event or a major championship, Feng has waited for this return to show the people from her country more about the game.
Feng, who turned 24 on Aug. 5, has not won this season, but has six top-10 finishes, with a best showing of second at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and two T9s at the U.S. Women’s Open and in defense of her Wegmans title.
Feng moved to the United States in 2007 at age 17 to expand her golf knowledge at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy and has ferried between the U.S. and China since her rookie LPGA season in 2008.
“After I won, it gave a lot of Chinese female golfers a lot more confidence to play outside of the country,” Feng said.
Later this month, Tiger Woods will face Rory McIlroy in an exhibition at Hainan. Chinese star Guan Tianlang, 14, will match his game in a skills competition before their match.
Feng and Tianlang both hail from Guangzhou, China in south China, about 75 miles northwest of Hong Kong. Feng is paired with No. 1-ranked Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu in the first round.
Nicklaus in the spotlight
Jack Nicklaus gets the golf course focus this week on the LPGA and the PGA TOUR. The LPGA debuts the Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing at Pine Valley Golf Resort and The Presidents Cup will be played at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Pine Valley is one of the most prestigious venues in China and was the first invitation-only golf club in China. The course has hosted many professional events, including the 2005 Johnnie Walker Classic, won by Adam Scott. The signature hole is the par-3 17th, which has a waterfall. There are views of the Great Wall of China from on the course. The course will play to par 73 and 6,596 yards.
In two weeks, the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea will be held on another Nicklaus design, Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course in Incheon.
Up early for the first two rounds
With a 12-hour time difference between the East coast of the United States and Beijing, American golf fans will have rise early to catch live golf this week. Golf Channel will show all four rounds, with the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday from 3-5 a.m., and 4-6 a.m., respectively. The weekend rounds will be taped for viewing from 3-6 p.m. each day.
This is the first year for the event.
Will Inbee Park defend her title?