STEADY SEASON FOR HENDERSON
This week’s CME Group Tour Championship marks Brooke Henderson’s 30th tournament of 2017, a rigorous schedule that saw her skip only three events. That’s not unusual for Henderson, who played 31 events in 2016, her first full year on Tour. Her aim was to see as many events as she could over her early years on Tour and learn which courses suited her game, not to mention get a hang of the intense travel that comes with being an LPGA Tour professional.
“Maybe we’ve become maybe a little bit smarter in picking and choosing,” said Henderson, who comes into this week fifth in the Race to the CME Globe. “I feel like my schedules have been the correct schedules for the way I’ve been playing, the way I’ve been feeling and the way the years have been setting up.”
Henderson’s 2016 campaign included two victories, highlighted by her first major win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and an incredible 16 top-10 finishes. While 2017 also brought two wins, her eight top 10s could lead one to believe that perhaps it was a disappointing season. That question has an easy answer – No.
“I believe it was a great follow up to last year,” said Henderson. “I had really a miracle season or the perfect season last year. So many things went perfect for me. This year I kind of battled through a little bit more, a little bit more up and down. But to get two wins out here with the amount of talented players and the consistency that’s out here on the LPGA Tour, and I’m really proud of that.”
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR CHINA AND THE NEW WORLD NO. 1
Shanshan Feng was alone in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport when she got the news she had been waiting for – she was officially the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Her reaction?
“I went into (TGI) Friday’s and I ordered a steak for myself,” said Feng with glee. “I mean, I was trying to celebrate a little bit, you know, with the steak by my own. I took a picture of it and send to my dad and my mom. I was like, I’m here celebrating.”
The fact that Feng, who is renowned for her love of cow-print pants, celebrated her achievement with a piece of meat is no surprise. The 28-year-old from the Republic of China is one of the freshest personalities on Tour, yet she sees this honor as an opportunity not just for herself, but for her entire country.
“Now is just the beginning, right?” said Feng, who rose to World No. 1 by winning last week’s Blue Bay LPGA in her home country. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be World No. 1, but at least I’ve been World No. 1. Hopefully that can encourage more people to start playing golf. I would say China will become one the strongest countries in the future.”
Feng has long been a role model for the future generation of Chinese golfers, even before she claimed the bronze medal at last year’s Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. She started the Shanshan Feng Golf Academy earlier this year, working with her long-time instructor Gary Gilchrist, and has partnered with the American Junior Golf Association since 2015. With three other Chinese players on the LPGA Tour (plus Yu Liu, who graduated from the Symetra Tour in 2017), several rising stars on the PGA Tour and a young crop of amateurs also on the rise, Feng says the future of Chinese golf is bright. However, she still takes responsibility for promoting that growth.
“If you look at International Crown standing, China is outside of the top eight. We’re ninth right now,” said Feng. “What we need to do is like for the rest of our players, I think if I have time, I should spend more time and try to help them a little more. I believe they’re talented. They’re good players. They’re going to be really good in the future.”
HOW WOULD YOU SPEND $1 MILLION?
For the top five players in the Race to the CME Globe, it’s easy to understand – win the CME Group Tour Championship and win $1 million. The question remains – how would each player spend $1 million?
“Normally when I celebrate, of course there are two things. One is food, of course. Very, good food. I don’t know what food yet, but I can tell you of course I’m going to have some good food and share the happiness with my parents.
Second thing is I’m going to buy myself presents. What I normally get are handbags. (Laughter.) So depends on how well I’m doing, and I get myself like different prices handbags. If I can really win this week -- of course if I win this week I’m going to win the million, right? I’ll become Player of the Year, and then maybe I’ll get myself a very nice handbag.” - Shanshan Feng
“That’s a good question. Really haven’t thought about it too much. Just going to focus on the next four days, and then hopefully on Sunday I can make that decision.” - Brooke Henderson
- Brooke Henderson is playing in her third CME Group Tour Championship; her best finish is 13th in 2015
- Shanshan Feng is playing in her fourth CME Group Tour Championship and also played in the 2012-13 CME Group Titleholders; she won the 2013 CME Group Titleholders and tied for eighth at the 2016 CME Group Tour Championship