DALY CITY, Calif. – When Shanshan Feng became the first golfer from China to win a major championship back in 2012, she made a prediction.
“I think in the future, China will be one of the strongest countries in golf,” Feng said with the LPGA Championship trophy at her side in Rochester, N.Y.
OK, China isn’t there yet, but Feng’s dream is further along than a lot of golf fans would have expected. Feng was the only Chinese player in the LPGA when she made her prediction. Today, she’s one of six Chinese playing the LPGA, and she isn’t the only threat to win.
With a 5-under-par 67 Thursday, Xi Yu Lin finished the first round of the Swinging Skirts Classic four shots off the lead. A third-year LPGA member, Lin is seeking her first tour victory. She won on the Ladies European Tour two years ago, and she has six top-10 LPGA finishes.
Lin is No. 51 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, Feng is No. 10, and they’re beginning to get some help in boosting China’s golf profile. China stunned some golf observers becoming one of the eight nations to qualify for this summer’s UL International Crown international team competition. China beat out Spain for a spot and at No. 7 in team qualifying ranked ahead of Australia, which grabbed the last qualifying spot.
“I never thought we could get into International Crown that soon,” Lin said. “With our juniors playing well, I thought we could definitely get there in two years. I can see a lot of players getting much better.”
Lin seems a lock to join Feng as China’s representatives when golf returns to the Olympics this summer at Rio de Janeiro.