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A major victory for global women's golf 0

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency
Shanshan Feng of China holds the trophy after winning the LPGA Golf Championship in Pittsford, New York, June 10, 2012. (REUTERS/Adam Fenster)

Shanshan Feng of China holds the trophy after winning the LPGA Golf Championship in Pittsford, New York, June 10, 2012. (REUTERS/Adam Fenster)

WATERLOO, Ont. - 

It still hasn't sunk in for Shanshan Feng.

The 22-year-old from Guangzhou became the first woman from mainland China to win on the LPGA Tour, and the first -- male or female -- to win a major championship, with a final-round 67 on June 10 to take the LGPA Championship by two strokes.

With some speculating that Feng's victory could do for Chinese women's golf what Se Ri Pak's 1998 LPGA Championship helped to kick-start South Korean golf, Feng hasn't looked that far ahead since her breakthrough.

"Because there was only one week off, I didn't have enough time to go home, go back to China, so I went home to Orlando just to rest a little bit," Feng said Wednesday during the pro-am for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ont.

"I was very excited last week but I know that I'm having a tournament this week so I was trying to adjust my mentality. Even though I won last week, I was trying to tell myself to be the same as normal, just be patient."

With the victory, which came on the heels of three top-five finishes, Feng moved up to fourth in the women's world golf rankings.

While she wasn't too sure what the response in China would be, she was told by a fellow competitor it would be big.

"I think we just secured another five LPGA events in China with her win," world No. 5 Suzann Pettersen of Norway said jokingly. "Shanshan is a fantastic player. She's young, she's very true. She's just herself and I love that.

"I guess we're going to China in a few years."

Pettersen, who finished in a four-way tie for second at the LPGA, said it was important for a tour that was struggling a few years ago and now has been adding tournaments all over the world.

"I just think the depth of women's golf is pretty good these days. We have good top-player representation from all over the world. I think it's important that our tour goes global. It's nice for us to showcase our skills and talents in countries where we're well represented by good players."

For now, Feng's victory at the LPGA represents a personal milestone.

"It's very important to me for sure, because I had never won on the LPGA before and that win, for myself, it proves that I learned a lot in five years (on the LPGA Tour) and I got myself up a level," Feng said.

While she has been caught up in the whirlwind of winning a major, she says she hopes it can have a positive effect back home.

"I hope my win can let more children back in China pick up golf," said Feng, who also goes by the name Jenny.

Her move to the U.S. at age 17 -- to work with Gary Gilchrist, who also coaches Yani Tseng, in Orlando -- was prompted by a regimented life back home, which allowed her limited time on the range to practise. She said that also is an issue for other young Chinese golfers looking to get better.

"I hope that more Chinese players can come out of the country, they can go to America or try to play in Japan or Europe," Feng said.

"(I moved) because I felt like if I kept practising only two hours a day and golfed and studied at the same time I wouldn't improve anymore, so I decided to come (to America)."

Feng says she has to keep improving and win more tournaments. She could only laugh at Pettersen's suggestion of five new tournaments in China.

"I think I'll need to be even better to help China ... have five tournaments," she said. "But hopefully there will be one or two ..."

Feng is itching to get to China to celebrate her victory with her family and maybe only then will the weight of her victory set in.

"I'm sure I'm going to have a big party when I go home."

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca


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