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 Ladies Professional Golf Association (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 US 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.
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 quite 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.”
Image credits: AP