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Feng seals world No 1

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-13 07:47

Olympic bronze medalist thrills home crowd with historic victory

Feng Shanshan on Saturday became China mainland's first golfer - male or female - to be projected world No 1 after her thrilling victory in the Blue Bay LPGA at Jian Lake Blue Golf Club on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

According to the LPGA website, Feng, who started last week at No 3, is poised to take over the top spot at the expense of South Korean rookie Park Sung-hyun, who tied for third.

Feng's pending coronation was sealed by a one-shot victory over Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn, whose birdie attempt on the 72nd hole lipped out - much to the delight of the home crowd.

Feng seals world No 1

Feng Shanshan poses with the trophy after shooting a 2-under 70 in Saturday's final round to win the Blue Bay LPGA at Hainan Island's Jian Lake Blue Golf Club. With the victory, Feng becomes the first China mainland golfer - male or female - to be ranked No 1 in the world. Xinhua

 
Feng finished the 72-hole event at 9-under 279 to earn $315,000 for her third title of the season and ninth of her career - including one major.

"I'm really, really excited and very proud of myself and I think it's special because I won this tournament to become world No 1," Feng told LPGA.com.

"I finished first in China, so I actually claimed the world No 1 in front of all the people at home," added the 28-year-old native of Guangzhou, who turned pro in 2007.

Feng, who also captured last week's Toto Japan Classic, added: "Hopefully there will be more Chinese getting on the tours and more world No 1s coming from China.

"I just want 2017 to keep going. A never-ending 2017, that would be great."

Park, who grabbed the top spot after the Japan Classic, closed with even-par 72 to finish tied for third with South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai (73) and Megan Khang (68) and Jessica Korda (71) of the US.

Jutanugarn, whose younger sister Ariya finished nine strokes off the pace, lamented another blown opportunity to capture her first LPGA crown.

"Of course everybody is cheering for (Feng). I mean, she is a great player, and I am very happy for her that she played really solid," said the 24-year-old, who has posted 11 top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour this season.

"She had a very good week in her home country, which I think is really cool."

Ye Lei was the top amateur. The Chinese teenager closed with a 77 to finish tied for 53rd in the 81-player field.

For Feng, the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, claiming the world No 1 is the culmination of more than a decade of toil on the tour.

As well as being China's first No 1, she was also the country's first winner on the LPGA Tour (2012 Wegman's LPGA Championship).

Her rise to the top was widely celebrated in Chinese media, but the development of the sport is facing a ambivalent time in the country.

Authorities have shut dozens of golf courses - many of them illegal - and curbed new construction.

At the same time, the number of pro tournaments in China has increased.

The LPGA Tour heads back to the United States this week for the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida, the final event on the 2017 tour calendar.

Agencies

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