Shanshan Feng never wanted to play more than 10 years of professional golf. She went longer than planned, and the only regret for China's happy-go-lucky major champion is the COVID-19 pandemic kept her from a proper farewell.
Feng, 32, announced her retirement Tuesday with an Instagram post in which she said golf gave her far more than she was able to give back.
"Now it is time for me to try something different,” she said.
Feng achieved plenty, beyond becoming China's first major champion in 2012 at the LPGA Championship. She won a bronze medal in golf's return to the Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. She won 22 times on the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and the Japan LPGA.
She also reached No. 1 in the world, a ranking she held for 23 weeks from November 2017 through April 2018.
“I consider myself extremely lucky to see the Chinese flag raising on the international stage,” she wrote in thanking all the support she had along the way.
Feng went some 18 months without competing. She finished third in the China Open in late 2019, then sat out all of 2020 during the pandemic. She returned in early April 2021 for the first LPGA major of the year and tied for third.
Her final victory was the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July 2019. Her final tournament was the Olympics outside Tokyo last summer, which had no spectators after a one-year postponement caused by the pandemic. Feng finished eighth.
“Due to the pandemic, I have never made an official farewell to people who support me on the golf course,” she wrote. She said she hopes to see her LPGA friends again in the future for what she described as “my last dance.”
In the meantime, Feng wants to slow down, focus on personal growth and give back by helping to develop more golf talent out of China.
“I have a dream that one day in future professional golf, we see more of us Chinese players,” she said. “The players and the resources together can help this sport tremendously grow, and create some future Chinese champions along the way.”
PRESIDENTS CUP ASSISTANTS
Webb Simpson will be on his home course of Quail Hollow in September for the Presidents Cup but without clubs. Simpson and Steve Stricker have been added as assistant captains for Davis Love III.
They will be joining Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson and Fred Couples as assistants for the Sept. 22-25 matches against the International team.
Stricker was the Presidents Cup captain in 2017 and joined Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only captains to win a Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup. He led the U.S. to a record victory over Europe last year at Whistling Straits. Johnson is the Ryder Cup captain for the 2023 matches in Italy, while Couples was 3-0 as a Presidents Cup captain.
The newcomer is Simpson, who played on three Presidents Cup teams, most recently at Royal Melbourne in 2019. He also played in three Ryder Cup matches.
SAY ONE THING, DO ANOTHER
Patrick Reed said one of the great appeals of LIV Golf was a smaller schedule.
“Just the quality of life for us as players now, having less events, being able to spend more time at home with the family ... and not sitting there and having to play three, four weeks in a row, then have a week off, and during that week off you’re preparing trying to get ready for the next week,” Reed said a month ago at LIV Golf's Oregon event.
And then the Asian Tour announced Tuesday that Reed will be playing in the International Series-Singapore next week and the International Series-Korea the following week.
Throw in the LIV Golf Invitational events outside Boston and Chicago in September, and Reed will be playing four of the next six weeks.
It’s nothing new for Reed, who typically plays around 30 times a year. It just doesn’t square with him talking about having fewer events a LIV Golf schedule affords.
Of course, there is that matter of world ranking points, which Asian Tour events receive. Reed is close to falling out of the top 50. The Asian Tour events will have minimal ranking points but still more than what Reed is getting now.
Joohyung Kim was such a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine in the TV series “Thomas & Friends” that he goes by “Tom.” And after a year like this, the 20-year-old South Korean has been chugging his way to a PGA Tour card.
Kim was No. 131 in the world at the start of the year. He won the Singapore International, was runner-up at the Singapore Open and was seated on stage with Greg Norman at the Saudi International when Norman was preaching the virtues of Saudi-backed LIV Golf and its investment in the Asian Tour.
Kim said his eyes were on a bigger prize.
“Every day I’ve played golf, I thought about playing on the PGA Tour. It was nothing else,” he said Sunday after he tied the Detroit Golf Club record with a 63 to finish seventh. Along with making the cut in the U.S. Open and British Open, he really piled up points with a third-place finish in the Scottish Open, co-sanctioned this year by the PGA Tour.
It all adds to enough points to assure he will have a full card for next season. Kim has risen to No. 34 in the world and is playing the Wyndham Championship. Much like the situation Will Zalatoris was in two years ago, he won’t be able to play in the PGA Tour postseason unless he wins this week.
“It could get a little emotional tonight, but it’s definitely been a dream,” he said. “It’s been a road. And hopefully, I’ll be out here full time.”
Luke Donald played his first Ryder Cup under European captain Bernhard Langer and served as an assistant to Padraig Harrington last year. In between, he also played for Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, and he was an assistant to Thomas Bjorn.
That’s quiet a variety of personalities from which to learn. Donald, appointed Ryder Cup captain on Monday, was asked which captain his personality would most likely resemble.
“I supposed somewhere between a Langer and an Olazabal,” he said. “I think I’m a detail-oriented person. I like to figure things out in my head without blurting them out. Jose was certainly more of a quiet leader, and I think that will be kind of my stance. That’s my characteristics.
“Between those two, I’m guessing I’ll be on the phone to both of them and getting some ideas for my captaincy.”
Tiger Woods is hosting a junior event on the Monterey Peninsula in October. TGR Live, Pebble Beach Co. and TaylorMade are collaborating on the TGR JR Invitational on Oct. 8-10 for 60 juniors, male and female. They will qualify on The Hay at Pebble Beach, the short course Woods designed. The championship matches will be at The Links at Spanish Bay. ... Jason Day closed with a 66 in the Rocket Mortgage Classic to tie for 17th and move to No. 106 and assure his 15th consecutive appearance in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Day also earned $128,100 to become the 11th player to surpass $50 million in career earnings. ... Top-seeded Steven Alker is among five players from the top 10 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings who are not playing the PGA Tour Champions event in Canada this week.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tony Finau won one tournament in his first 154 starts on the PGA Tour. He now has won three of his last 25.
“They say a winner is just a loser that just kept on trying, and that’s me to a T. How many times do I lose? But one thing I won’t do is give up.” — Tony Finau.
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