RIO DE JANEIRO – Shanshan Feng made it a point to smile more during the final round of the Olympics. Hit a good drive, smile. Hit a crisp iron shot, smile. Even miss a makeable putt, smile.
The 27-year-old bronze-medal winner from China gets it. She’s been seen on television for much of her 10-year professional career, but still, she isn’t usually recognized in public.
This week, with more exposure going to women’s golf than ever before, Feng knew it was a chance for more people to see her play golf. That, she hopes, will lead to more people playing golf in China.
“Normal people, if they don’t know about golf, they don’t play golf, they never see us,” Feng said.
“But this time, golf is televised on all channels back in China. Even people that don’t play golf, they actually get to see how great the Chinese players are. Of course, I make sure that I brought out my A-game and I smiled all the time, whether I missed a putt or made a putt. I was like, ‘oh, people back in China are watching so I need to make sure that I look nicely.’”
Feng says she usually has a “poker face” and is in “working mode.” But she wanted to shed the serious look this week and just enjoy herself. She hasn’t played as well as she would’ve liked this year on the LPGA, but this was a time to relax and take in the experience that is the Olympics.
“It helped me to release all the pressure because I smiled. That meant I wasn’t nervous,” she said. “I didn’t care about the results, and I just wanted to enjoy the week. That’s how I got here."