Feng's driving ambition

Updated: 2014-08-23 07:43

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

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Feng's driving ambition

Chinese professional golfer Feng Shanshan competes for the 'Mission Hills Star Trophy' in Haikou, South China's Hainan province. [Photo by Shi Yan / For China Daily]

Interview | Feng Shanshan

A young golfer from Guangzhou remains modest despite her success at professional tournaments overseas.

When Feng Shanshan spoke about the stuffed toys in her carry-on bags and the Korean dramas she watches during long flights, her high spirits seemed no different from those of any other young woman.

However, this "girl next door" is a trailblazer. She claimed the Chinese mainland's first major golf championship in 2012, and has driven the game's rise in the world's most-populous country, a huge achievement for a 24-year-old.

Feng started playing on the US-based Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour in 2008 and became a household name in global golfing circles after she won the LPGA Championship in 2012, one of the five major titles, to become the first person from the Chinese mainland to do so.

Since then, her consistent performances on the tour - highlighted by three LPGA titles and a recent runner-up spot at another major event, the British Open - coupled with the huge, untapped market in China, have cemented her status as an Asian icon in the game.

However, Feng doesn't enjoy the sort of stardom accorded to Li Na when the tennis player won the 2011 French Open, becoming the first Chinese to win a Grand Slam. Feng's 2012 major victory wasn't celebrated domestically in the way Li's was, and most passersby fail to identify her when she walks around the crowded streets and stores in Guangzhou, her hometown in Guangdong province.

Citing golf's underdevelopment in China, Feng shrugs off her low-profile status but is still committed to promoting the game in her home country.

"Golf in China remains a less-popular sport compared with other mainstream events. I feel blessed and responsible to be in a position (as the nation's top golfer) to represent it, and I will do what it takes to help it grow," Feng told China Daily after the launch of the 2014 LPGA Reignwood Classic last month.

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