FENG ENJOYS “BONUS” TIME AT WORLD NO. 1
This week marks Shanshan Feng’s maiden trip to Paradise, opening her season at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic for the first time in the tournament’s six-year history. After starting her round with bogey at the par-4 first, the 28-year-old from the Republic of China fairly cruised around the golf course, carding four birdies for a 3-under 70.
Feng appeared unfazed, though surprised, by the gusty winds that buffeted the Ocean Course Golf Club on Thursday after picture-perfect conditions earlier in the week.
“Yesterday was totally calm and no wind at all, and I was expecting like, you know, the scores would be, like, real low today, and the cut would be, like, real low,” said Feng. “But this morning I asked the girls I was like, is it normal here, the wind blowing like this? And they’re like, well, they’re not surprised. And I’m like, okay, this is an island, so I understand.”
Feng ascended to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings on Nov. 13, 2017, after taking back-to-back victories at the TOTO Japan Classic and Blue Bay LPGA. That led to quite a decorated offseason, as she received the Breakthrough of the Year award at the China Top Ten Laureus Awards, the Chinese equivalent of the ESPY Awards.
However, Feng pointed to something other than her big award as one of her favorite World No. 1 perks. Since she went to the top just as the LPGA Tour season ended, she has held that mark, uncontested, for 11 consecutive weeks.
“I think I claimed the No. 1 at the right timing, because it was like nine, or eight weeks for me? I didn’t do anything!” said Feng with her trademark giant laugh. “But I chose the right timing to become No. 1, so, I mean, that was a bonus, such a bonus.”
TORRES KEEPING IT CALM
Battling gusts of wind up to 35 mph, Maria Torres completed her very first professional round at 3-under 70 at the 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. Torres, a recent graduate of the University of Florida, said dealing with nerves and completely different weather conditions than her practice round was like “waking up and having all this rain and wind you’re like, oh my god, it’s the first day.” She ultimately said to herself, “You can play in the wind and the rain, so just keep it calm.”
Torres is no stranger to extreme conditions, as she grappled with the challenges of finishing LPGA Q School amid Hurricane Maria wreaking devastation throughout her hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. She then secured the 20th and final card after a three-hole playoff, becoming the first LPGA player to play under the Puerto Rican flag. “I love the course and like being near Puerto Rico,” she said, “so starting in the Caribbean this season is kind of nice.”
‘Simple’ was the key word for Torres’ first round of play. “We tried to keep it simple and tried to just take it shot by shot,” Torres said of her game plan with her caddie, Nicolas Pereira. Should she win on Sunday, Torres would join Beverly Hanson at the 1951 Eastern Open as the only players in LPGA history to win their first tournament in their first appearance as a member.
- Brooke Henderson is playing in her fourth Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, with a best finish of T21 in both 2016 and 2017
- Henderson has five career LPGA wins, with her most recent coming at the 2017 MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open.
- This is the third time in Henderson’s career that she has held the lead after the first round, joining the 2017 MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open and 2017 Meijer LPGA Classic; she went on to win both events
- Sarah Jane Smith is playing in her sixth Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, with a best finish of T33 in 2014.
- Smith is looking for her first LPGA Tour victory; she was runner-up at the 2016 Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational and 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
- Luna Sobron Galmes, a 2018 LPGA rookie, is playing in her first Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
- Sobron Galmes has played in two Ricoh Women’s British Opens, finishing tied for 13th in 2015, where she won the Smyth Salver as the low amateur, and missing the cut in 2016.