Expect to see World No.4 Shanshan Feng from China on the leader boards in the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne this week.
The Ladies European Tour member is making her tournament debut and first appearance of the year after winning the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in December.
She finished tied for second at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale in England last summer and now feels that her game fits links golf.
Describing Royal Melbourne, she said: “It kind of reminds me of the British Open. Before last year if I would come here, I would maybe struggle a little bit because I never played too well at the British. Before last year I think my best finish was 20th but last year I tied for second at Royal Birkdale. I played really well there last year so now I kind of know how to play on a links course. It is a little different from most courses. You have to practise bunker shots. You have to putt or hit low pitches from off the greens which I don’t normally do but I just practice them on the green for this week.”
This is Feng’s second visit to Australia but her first time playing in the championship. She previously played in the RACV Ladies Masters as an amateur but didn’t take any time out from the golf course.
“This time our hotel is next to St Kilda and I can see penguins. I really want to go and see the penguins and they told me I can go at night, so I’m really looking forward to that,” she added. “I do like Karaoke but I’m not sure if they have Chinese songs here, maybe not.”
The 25-year-old from Guangzhou now feels like the elder stateswoman as there are a handful of Chinese teenagers on both the LET and LPGA tours.
“There are many young golfers growing up in China right now. We had two rookies last year and two more rookies this year, so this year we have five Chinese girls on the LPGA and also on the LET we still have two to three girls so the Chinese girls are doing really well. A lot of them are really young. The other four are all below 20. It makes me feel really old right now but I still feel really happy because the first six years I was by myself. I was the only Chinese and now I’m just one of five.”
Despite the emergence of a new generation of talent and Lydia Ko becoming world No.1 three weeks ago aged 17, the eighth year professional is still the dominant Chinese talent and hopes to climb to the top of the Rolex Rankings, firstly by chasing world no.2 Inbee Park.
“I’m still going to go for it. I don’t like to set goals about numbers. I like to have a target person and try to chase that person. It’s always been Inbee for a while. Lydia is no.1 but it’s still Inbee because I haven’t passed her. We are good friends and she is someone who can encourage me to go forward. Inbee has a good touch with the putting. I don’t know how to learn that. Her husband tells her to look at my swing.”