HENDERSON HOPING TO STAY PERFECT IN JAPAN
The last time World No. 13 Brooke Henderson was in Japan, she was hoisting the individual title trophy at the 2014 Women’s World Amateur Games in Karuizawa. Henderson is making her first start at the TOTO Japan Classic, and a win this week would bring her record to 2-0 when playing in Japan.
“Playing in the World Am a few years ago, was a highlight of my amateur career, and experiencing playing in Japan for the first time was really cool,” Henderson said. “Going into Tokyo and doing a few extra things made it extremely memorable and I’ve been really looking forward to this visit back.”
Henderson is in top form heading into the TOTO Japan Classic finishing in the top 10 in three of her last four starts, including her second victory of the 2017 season at the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open.
“I’d like to get another top 10, of course a win would be amazing, but top 10 is my goal,” Henderson said. “Keep the streak alive a little bit, but just to continue to play well and improve my world ranking and position in the Race to the CME Globe. Hopefully this week will be a boost in that direction.”
Entering this week, Henderson is fourth in the Race to the CME Globe standings, 241 points behind third place So Yeon Ryu. If Henderson holds her position in the top five, she will control her own destiny at the CME Group Tour Championship, meaning if she wins in Naples she will win the $1M CME Globe.
SHANSHAN FENG LOOKING FOR FIRST TITLE DEFENSE
Fresh off a runner-up finish in her title defense at Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Shanshan Feng is playing well and poised for another stab at a successful title defense. In her last six starts, Feng has finished in the top seven five times, and is looking forward to another great week.
“As a defending champion of course you have more pressure, people will be expecting you to do well again,” Feng said. “I think I’ve had seven wins on the LPGA so far, and the first six times I didn’t defend my title, so if I can actually defend my title this week of course that would be great because that would be my first time to do it on the LPGA. I’m feeling good about this tournament this week. The course is in great shape and my condition is pretty good so I’m really looking forward to it.”
After winning Bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Feng went on an absolute tear with seven straight top-eight finishes including back-to-back wins at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the TOTO Japan Classic.
“Last year was different because I really picked up confidence in the Olympics,” Feng said. “Before the Olympics, I was kind of struggling a little bit, I was trying to push myself too hard and couldn’t enjoy being on the course. After the Olympics I figured out how to enjoy being on the course, and not to focus on the score only. After that, I just played so well. Normally, I play pretty well in Asia, I think because I’m an Asian and coming back to Asia, having Asian food, speaking Chinese to a lot of people and seeing the Asian fans. I’m just so excited.”
Feng played on the JLPGA Tour for a few years where she won six times, and has quite the following of fans cheering her on this week at the Taiheyo Club.
“I know there’s actually a lot of Chinese people in Japan, so a lot of them will come to the tournament and watch,” Feng said. “Even Japanese people when they’re watching, they’re so nice to me, they’ll actually try to speak Chinese to me, they’ll say ‘Come On’ in Chinese and it makes me feel special and makes me feel like I am welcome. I love the fans here, and every time coming back I know there will be many people watching us so I’m feeling great.”
Shanshan Feng when Defending a Title:
Victory Title Defense
2016 TOTO Japan Classic ???
2016 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia T2
2014 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia T2
2013 Reignwood LPGA Classic T49
2013 CME Group Titleholders T12
2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship T9
- Three players in the history of the TOTO Japan Classic have successfully defended their titles: Annika Sorenstam (2001-2005), Woo-Soon Ko (1994, 1995) and Betsy King (1992, 1993)
- Tournament records: 63 - Lowest round in tournament history; most recently shot by Sakura Yokomine in the second round in 2011; 192 - Lowest 54-hole score (-24), set by Annika Sorenstam in 2003
- In 2017, Shanshan Feng has made 19 starts on the LPGA with 10 top-10 finishes and a victory at the LPGA Volvik Championship in May
- The TOTO Japan Classic marks Feng’s 12th start since her victory at the 2017 LPGA Volvik Championship
- Feng has made five starts at the TOTO Japan Classic, with three top 10 finishes
- No LPGA players in 2017 have successfully defended their titles yet
- In 2017, Brooke Henderson has eight top 10 finishes, including two victories to her name: the Meijer LPGA Classic in June and the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open one month ago
- This is Henderson’s first start at the TOTO Japan Classic
- This week’s TOTO Japan Classic will mark the 31st event in the season-long Race to CME Globe, with just Japan and Blue Bay LPGA to go until the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship
- World No. 3 and two-time season winner Lexi Thompson holds a narrow lead in the current Race to the CME Globe standings with 3,266 points. World No. 2 and two-time season winner Sung Hyun Park is close behind with 3,029 points, and she is followed closely by World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu with 3,026 points.
“I think you’ll need to hit it extremely well off the tee and on your approach shots to give yourself good birdie opportunities, and just make it a lot easier on yourself. It’s a tough course, but if you hit the ball really well I think you could make it easier.” - Brooke Henderson on the Taiheyo Club – Minori Course
“Of course, I’m feeling very honored to have the same name as the panda. Hopefully, that panda can give me good luck.” - Shanshan Feng on a panda recently born in Japan with the name Shanshan
“Sukiyaki!” - Shanshan Feng on her favorite Japanese food to eat this week
Nov. 2 11 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Nov. 3 11:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m.
Nov. 4 10:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.
All times listed are Eastern