Feng win could inspire Chinese girls

By Randall MellJune 11, 2012, 1:54 am

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Ten years from now, we may be talking about “Shanshan’s kids.”

We may be talking about a wave of talented young Chinese players winning LPGA events the way we now talk about “Se Ri’s kids” and how Pak ignited an explosion in women’s golf in South Korea when she won the 1998 LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open.

That’s how large Shanshan Feng’s breakthrough at the Wegmans LPGA Championship could be.

With a 5-under-par 67 Sunday, the best round of the entire championship, Feng didn’t just become the first player from mainland China to win an LPGA event. She became the first man or woman from there to win a major championship in golf. She may have helped hyper-accelerate a fledgling game there with all kinds of crazy potential.

“I would say if the Koreans can do it, China can do it,” Feng said. “I think in the future, China will be one of the strongest countries in golf.”

Feng’s parents have faith, too.

“My parents tell me all Asians are good at controlling small things,” Feng said.

Video: Feng makes history for China

Photos: Best shots from tournament week

Feng holds off Pettersen to win Wegmans

Feng, 22, was the best of the best Sunday at Locust Hill Country Club, which was almost claustrophobic in its narrow, confining setup. Control was everything in the final round, and nobody controlled her golf ball like Feng.

Almost mistake free Sunday, Feng put up one of only three bogey-free rounds in the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

“Shanshan’s ball striking has been unbelievable for at least a year now,” said Gary Gilchrist, her coach.

Steady and sure, Feng kept creeping up the leaderboard through the final round. Three back at day’s start, she moved into a tie for the lead with a birdie at the 12th. She took sole possession of the lead making pars with challengers falling away as Locust Hill tightened its squeeze on the back nine.

Five players had shares of the lead Sunday.

Feng emerged from a pack of contenders that included major champions Karrie Webb, Suzann Pettersen, Eun-Hee Ji and Stacy Lewis.

With a birdie at the 17th, Feng built a two-shot lead that stood up at the end.

“I still can’t believe it,” Feng said with the championship trophy at her side afterward.

China is the largest nation in the world. There are 1.3 billion living there. Now there's one major champion there.

With the victory, Feng will vault to No. 5 in the Rolex World Golf Rankings. She began the week No. 10, one of just two Chinese women among the top 400 in the world.

Lewis finishes T-2, takes home consolation prize

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“I’m the first,” Feng said of her major championship title. “I’m sure there will be a second and third and more. I do want to be a model where all the juniors are trying to beat my stats.”

Feng began playing in China when she was 10 at the urging of her father, Feng Xiong, who worked with a local golf association. Feng won the China Junior Championship, the China Junior Open and three times won the China Women’s Amateur. She ran into Tseng in larger junior events.

“It was hard on Shanshan growing up,” Gilchrist said. “She was always compared to Yani Tseng, but she persevered. I think perseverance is her strength.”

At 17, Feng gained an golf academy scholarship to the United States, where she trained under Gilchrist on Hilton Head Island. Gilchrist caddied for her a year later at Q-School when she became the first Chinese player to earn LPGA membership. She would go on to win three times on the Japan LPGA Tour and once on the Ladies European Tour.

“I’ve always been chasing Yani,” Feng said. “I’m still chasing her.”

On Sunday, Feng finally passed Tseng on a grand stage.

Feng’s victory, combined with the Olympic movement, is expected to light a fire for the game in China.

“Golf has never been a major sport in China because it’s never been an Olympic sport,” Gilchrist said. “China sports are all about the Olympics, so a lot more people are excited about golf now.”

And excited about Feng.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.