Shanshan Feng Wins Sunday Shootout at Reignwood LPGA Classic


Shanshan Mania stayed at a fevered pitch throughout the final round at the Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing!  And what a round it was as Shanshan Feng, China’s only golf superstar, the hopes and dreams of a nation riding on her every shot, played her way to a final hole triumph over Rolex ranked #1 Inbee Park and Rolex ranked #3 Stacy Lewis.  Mr. Gang Zheng, the manager of the tournament, got what he wanted, a showcase for Chinese golfers.

Jun. 10, 2012; Pittsford, NY, USA; Shanshan Feng reacts after sinking the putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Wegmans LPGA championship at the Locust Hill Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Inbee Park  started the round trailing Feng’s 3rd round lead by 5 strokes and was never a real threat to either Feng or Lewis.  She didn’t pick up a birdie until the 7th hole.  By then Lewis had fired off 4 birdies and edged Feng out of the lead by 2 shots.

Park was 7 shots  behind Lewis and 6 behind Feng when the trio made the turn and she simply wasn’t able to close that gap, not even with her heroic back 9 effort.  For Park, the good news is that her putter’s back in service, but at the Reignwood LPGA Classic, that revival just came too late for a win.

The Back 9 Battle

Feng and Lewis virtually dashed through the final 9 holes in a dead-heat, 2-horse race.

Feng birdied the 10th hole and pulled even with Lewis at -24.  The pair traded shot-for-shot through 11 and 12.

Then Lewis fired a birdie on 13 and held a 1 shot lead.  They both gave back a shot on 14, then stayed even on 15 and fired a pair of birdies on 16.

Starting 17, Lewis was holding on to her 1 shot lead.  It wasn’t much, but it was a lead and she was just 2 holes short of a victory.

With pars on 17, Feng was still 1 shot off Lewis’s lead and had to birdie 18 to force a playoff.  Lewis parred the 18th but Feng eagled it and won the Reignwood LPGA Classic with a single shot!  Now that’s a storybook ending for Shanshan Feng and for Chinese golf!

"If it’s not me, I would want [Shanshan] to win.    She deserves it . . .  I mean she brought us here.  She’s the reason we’re playing here, so she deserves it.  Stacy Lewis, Going in to the Final Round at the Reignwood"

The Reignwood LPGA Classic is Feng’s first win this season, her 2nd LPGA victory.  She’s started 15 Tour events in 2013, made the cut 14 times, and earned 6 top-10 finishes.  Feng is 24, turned pro in 2007, and has crossed the $3 million mark in earnings.  Her personal goal is to win 2 tournaments this year.  There are 6 tournaments remaining before the LPGA closes out the 2013 season at the CME Group Titleholders in November.  She’s not ready to close out the season.

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Right behind Feng, Lewis & Park, Karrie Webb kept the Australian flag on the board with a -20, solid 4th place finish.  Webb played superb golf, firing off a total of 23 birdies during the 4 round, Reignwood LPGA Classic, giving up only 3 bogeys, and playing bogey-free throughout the 3rd and 4th rounds.

South Korean Na Yeon Choi made a strong start, stumbled in the middle rounds, and recovered enough to card a 69 for the final round of the Reignwood.  Choi finished in 5th place with a -16, still an impressive score, and took home a paycheck for slightly less than $75K.  That’s about $1,000/hole.

Yani Tseng was a woman on fire during the 4th round.  She clawed her way up the board from a shared 15th place standing to a 6th place finish, showing some of the golf brilliance that kept her at the top of the world rankings for 109 consecutive weeks from 2011-2013.  Tseng’s final round was her best performance of the tournament.  She birdied half the holes in the round, gave back strokes on 2 holes, and went to the clubhouse with a 66, 7 shots under par.

Beatriz Recari, Christel Boeljon & Pornonang Phatlum, keeping Spain, the Netherlands, and Thailand in the top-10, finished in a 3-way tie for 7th place.  It was an especially fine finish for 134th ranked Boeljon, who’s 4th round performance included a heart-stopping eagle on the par-5 6th hole! Great shot, Christel!  The trio took home paychecks for about $45K, not big bucks but certainly more than enough to meet expenses and have a little extra pocket money.

A Showcase for Chinese Golfers

In addition to Shanshan Feng, 20 Chinese golfers played in the Reignwood LPGA Classic.  How did they fare on the global stage, competing against a field of world-class athletes?  Liying Ye finished at -9, between Brittany Lang and Carlota Ciganda.  That’s not a bad finish for an unranked player’s initial effort.  We’ll probably see more of Ye.

Of the 5 Chinese amateurs playing in the event, Simin Feng was the most successful.  Feng finished at -6 and, like Liying Ye, keeping very good company, between Caroline Masson and Moira Jutanugarn.

Half the Chinese players who were admitted to the Reignwood finished in the bottom ranks, but it would be unfair to conclude that golf in China isn’t ready for the world stage.  China’s golf fever is just warming up, and these women are on the leading edge of a wave of competitive athletes who will increasingly stake their claims in the world of pro golf.  In the same way that Se Ri Pak opened the doors of pro golf for South Korean women and Karrie Webb secured the ALPG position on the world stage, Shanshan Feng’s victory at the Reignwood LPGA Classic and the partnership Mike Whan has negotiations with the China LPGA signals the beginning of a new era for women’s golf.  There’s no going back.

If you want more, the Golf Channel will cover the 4th round highlights today, 3-6pm, ET.  I’m not going to miss it.  I want to watch that 18th hole eagle!