Sports / Golf

Mainland's first major

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-12 08:30

Mainland's first major

Feng Shanshan of China wraps herself in the Chinese flag after winning the LPGA Championship on Sunday. She is the first from the Chinese mainland to win both an LPGA event and a major. [Photo/Agencies]

A bogey-free fourth round gives Feng Shanshan the LPGA Championship, Associated Press reports.

Feng Shanshan set two personal goals this year on the LPGA Tour. She reached them both with one memorable round. Feng won the LPGA Championship on Sunday to become the first player from Chinese mainland to win an LPGA Tour title and a major event, closing with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory.

"I am so excited right now," Feng said. "I did it. I don't know how to celebrate. It happened too soon. I'm going to miss my flight tomorrow. I might just go home. Who knows? I want to see my parents. I'm sure they want to see me."

More than likely.

The 22-year-old Feng had the lowest round of the tournament at the right time and finished at 6-under 282.

Feng, who began the day three shots behind third-round leader Ji Eun-hee, had a bogey-free round to etch her name in the record books, and her fourth top 10 of the year moved her to fifth in the world.

"For me, I never thought, 'I must win.' I knew I was three behind (at the start), so I knew I had a chance," said Feng, who began playing golf at age 10. "I was focusing on very shot. If I win, I win. If I don't, I don't. It just worked out."

Stacy Lewis, bidding to win her third straight stroke-play event on the LPGA Tour, shot a 70 to tie for second with Mika Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and third-round leader Ji. Miyazato shot 69, Pettersen 70, and Ji 72.

Karrie Webb, who started the day one shot behind Ji, had a 72 to finish at 3 under. Little-known Gerina Piller, a star in college at UTEP, and Ai Miyazato each shot 68 to also finish at 3 under.

Paula Creamer had a 71, and Giulia Sergas and Inbee Park shot 72 to finish another shot back.

Defending champion Tseng Ya-ni had a closing 76 and was 13 over in a tournament she won a year ago by 10 shots.

Feng joined a growing list of players who have broken through for their first career victory at the LPGA Championship. Anna Nordqvist in 2008 and Tseng in 2009 were the last two of the seven who have accomplished the feat.

"You knew it was coming at some point. I'm surprised she hasn't won out here," Lewis said. "She went out and won it. The goal was to go post a low number. That's what everybody was trying to do."

Over the first three days, Ji and Webb had notched the lowest score - 68 - on the Locust Hill Country Club course, its narrow fairways and long, thick rough providing a challenge worthy of a major.

Tseng last year and Cristie Kerr in 2010 won this tournament with 19-under scores, Kerr by a record 12 shots and Tseng by 10. With difficult conditions over the first three days, nobody was able to break away, and only 13 players began the day under par.

But under a blue sky with only the hint of a breeze, a breakthrough by somebody seemed likely. That it ended up being the only player from China with an LPGA card and no career wins didn't seem likely.

"Obviously, it means a lot for me because this is my fifth year on the tour," Feng said. "I was sad and I was even thinking, 'Can I win again?' I won twice on the Japanese tour last year and it helped a lot. It helped me to have confidence again. Now, I know I can win again."

Feng made five birdies without a bogey, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and reaching 16 greens in regulation. She even laughed with her caddie after barely missing a birdie putt at No. 16, probably because she didn't know she was nursing a one-shot lead over Mika Miyazato.

"I wasn't looking at the scoreboard," Feng said. "I was on the 18th green and I looked at the board and I was leading. I couldn't believe it."

Feng didn't allow an errant drive into a fairway bunker at the par-5 17th hole get her down. She hit her third shot 12 feet from the pin and made birdie for a two-shot lead that nobody challenged. She closed with a par, hitting her drive right down the middle of the fairway on one of the most difficult scoring holes on the course.

Unfazed when her second shot found rough at the edge of the green, she chipped inside 2 feet and made par to secure the victory.

"There was nobody with us before 16," Feng said. "Then on 17 at least 10 media people were around us. 'OK, maybe I have a chance to win.' After I chipped (at 18), I looked at the board, so I knew I was leading."

Associated Press

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