‘Chinese can play golf well’
China’s former world No.1 Feng Shanshan retires
Published: Aug 02, 2022 09:53 PM
China's Feng Shanshan plays on the 16th fairway on the first day of the 2016 Women's British Open Golf Championships at Woburn Golf Club in central England on July 28, 2016. Photo: AFP

China's Feng Shanshan plays on the 16th fairway on the first day of the 2016 Women's British Open Golf Championships at Woburn Golf Club in central England on July 28, 2016. Photo: AFP

China's former world golf champion and 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medalist Feng Shanshan announced her retirement from professional golf and the LPGA Tour through social media platform Weibo on Tuesday, stating that she hoped to inspire more people to engage in the sport.

Before Tuesday's announcement, the 32-year-old golf pro has been appointed as the head coach of the Chinese women's national team, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"I will utilize my international experience combined with the real situation in China to find my coaching system that fits the Chinese golfers best," Feng was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

In November 2017, she became women's world No.1 and stayed atop for 23 weeks, it said.

"I'm very proud of my career achievement. For those years as a golf pro, I would give myself full marks," said Feng.

Father's wish

Feng started playing golf at a young age thanks to her father's wish to build up her body. "I still remember the coach said that 'I have some talent for the sport' after first contact with golf," Feng told the Global Times on Tuesday, who turned into a professional player when discovering the fun of "numerous unknowns and new changes" in this challenging sport. 

Although golf is indeed relatively small in China, Feng still considers it "a sport of green, sunshine and friendship," claiming her own story of growing into a professional player with family's support and personal efforts as a good example.

"This is something that my generation and the countless generations of golfers in the future want to change," she said.

We hope that everyone can correctly understand golf and prove that Chinese people can play golf well," said Feng.  

'My last dance'

Feng's announcement comes a year after her last competitive appearance, at the Tokyo Olympics, where Feng had strongly hinted she was about to retire, AFP said on Tuesday.

"In recent years, the global pandemic has changed a lot of things, and makes me reflect," she said. 

"It is time to slow down a little, focus more on my personal growth, and spend some time with my family."

Feng told AFP that in Tokyo it had been an honor to represent her country, for potentially the last time.

"We're representing our own countries, and we're not playing for prize money, but we're playing for honor," she said at Kasumigaseki Country Club, where she could not repeat her medal heroics of five years earlier, finishing eighth.

"Out of all my achievements, I would say a medal at the Olympics is very special," said Feng, whose only major win came at the 2012 US PGA Championship.

"Even though I've been a major winner, think about it, we have five majors every year, so in four years we have 20 chances to win a major." 

"So I would say it's harder, much harder, to get a medal at the Olympics. It was the most memorable moment of my career," said Feng.

Brought up in South China's Guangdong Province, an 18-year-old Feng became the first Chinese player to earn an LPGA tour card in 2007, AFP said.

The easy-going Feng went on to be the first Chinese player, man or woman, to win a major and lifted 10 LPGA titles during her 14 active years on the tour, the media said.

In 2017, Feng became the only Chinese golfer to date to reach the world number one ranking.

During a supremely consistent career, Feng registered 18 top-10 finishes in majors, two of them in 2021 even as she was winding down her playing commitments, said AFP.

Even after the retirement, golf has been still a big part of Feng's life as she is coaching China's women's national team since December. 

She was reached by China's national team for a future plan in November and had two trainings with the team.  

"I can extract some replicable things from my experience to help young talents. Next, I will use international experience and the situation of Chinese golf to gradually sort out a training system that is most suitable for our Chinese players," said she, who is setting out for a new training with the team preparing for the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023.

"I hope that they can bag in more champions in international games and even the gold medal at the Olympic Games."