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ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open

Round 4 - Ko plays a blinder for 9th career win

February 22, 2015
Lydia Ko, 2015 ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open

World No.1 Lydia Ko took home her ninth career title at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. The 17-year-old Ko finished at 9-under-par, two shots clear of Amy Yang. Ko got her round started with a spectacular eagle that set the stage for a pace that Yang ended up being unable to keep up with on the back nine as Ko played the inward nine bogey free.

Taller, cooler, smarter – never before has a 17-year-old applied instructions so aptly as Lydia Ko, the youngest ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open champion.

Ko, as has become her custom, set another swag of records today in holding off Korean Amy Yang by two shots to win on the fabled Royal Melbourne Composite Course.

The win, Ko’s sixth on the LPGA Tour and fourth national championship after two in Canada and one in her native New Zealand, will help consolidate her position atop the Rolex Rankings.

But it was the method by which she lived coach David Leadbetter’s instructions to be taller, cooler and smarter that made most who witnessed sense it won’t be anywhere near her last.

“We’ve been working on my swing and ‘be tall’ is the part in my swing where I shouldn’t dip my head and I would say my height is 5’3”.7, so he said ‘Lydia, you were 4’11” the other day’.

“He told me to keep my height and said (I was) 5’3”.8’ and I was like, ‘Ok, I’m getting taller’. We were talking about that in the sense of ‘be tall’.

“Be cool was because we discussed that it was going to be hot and also be cool in the head too, be smart, play safe when you need to and then be aggressive.

“Play smart was really the biggest thing he told me at the beginning of this week.”

And it’s where she’s a cut above the rest of the golfing world.

Ko defies her birth certificate.She has hands of a golfing surgeon and the mind of canny veteran. Several times during her round she was placed under extreme pressure from Yang and a host of chasers. Yet each time she responded with aplomb in holding off Yang, Ariya Jutanugarn, while Perth’s Minjee Lee fired a 72 to finish at -1 and top Australian, tied seventh.

Ko began shakily, uncharacteristically so. She made a bogey at the first after coming up short at the par-four, then three-putted the par-five second for a par after hitting the green in two.

All that changed on the third, a driveable par-four in the classic Royal Melbourne mould, when she chipped in for eagle to regain the outright lead.

But she was on the rollercoaster, at least by her amazingly steady standards. At the short par-four eighth, her wedge shot hammered through the green and down into a deep swale behind the putting surface with virtually no chance of getting up and down.

The Kiwi tried a flop shot but it came back to her, and acknowledged her mistake later. A more conservative bump-and-run shot up the bank left her with a curling 3m putt for a bogey. She made it, which tells you a lot about her mentality.

“After I hit the shot, I said, ‘I should have just hit that (second) shot the first time’,” she said. “Even if I didn’t make a par, it’s an easier bogey and I had to work really hard for that bogey.

“I think that bogey putt was really good and if I’d made a double, today could have been a whole different story.”

At that point she had lost the lead to Amy Yang, but her back nine was virtually flawless. She chipped up close at the par-five 10th to make a birdie, then she cut the corner at the dogleg 12th hole, hit it to 4m and her birdie putt trickled over the front edge. Back in front, she would not relent from there.

She closed with five consecutive pars, although she had one last flourish to deliver for the crowd. At the long, par-four 18th, she chose to drive down the first fairway — a relatively common ploy over the years — to open up the angle to the green, then hit a gorgeous short iron shot that almost hit the flag.

Anti-climactically, she missed the putt for birdie. But the tap-in par was enough for a 71 and a two-shot victory. It was only three short years ago that Ko made world headlines by becoming the youngest ever winner of a professional tournament at the 2012 Women’s New South Wales Open.

But she said much had changed despite being back on ground on which she felt was one of her “homes”.

“It feels like a lot of things have happened in that time,” Ko said.

“Not the time that I won, but the year before (2011) when I came second, it really helped me with my confidence.

“Just to know that I can be close in these professional events was such a cool thing that I realised and it gave me a lot of confidence and helped start my way towards becoming a professional – and it feels like a long time.

“I feel like I really want to go back to Oatlands again and play. It’s a lot of great memories and a lot of things have happened in those years.

“Time flies, (but) I’m still 17 though.”

Heaven help those who don’t beat her soon.

By Mark Hayes and Martin Blake for Golf Australia

Round 3 - Players and scores suffering from Australian heat

February 21, 2015
Ariya Jutanugarn, R3 ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open

Lydia Ko loves playing in Australia; she loves the thrill of contending in big tournaments. But asked if she’d take a 71 in tomorrow’s final round, the affable New Zealander jumped at the offer.

“Yeah, I would in that heat,” the world No.1 only half-joked after firing a one-under-par 72 today to share the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open lead at seven under.

So oppressive was the heat that Royal Melbourne’s already challenging greens became super slippery downhill and Ko reiterated her halfway thought that she’d be surprised if the winner reached double-digits under par.

Four players held or shared the lead today as putting drifted between science and artform on glassy greens.

“They’re really hard. I’m scratching my head over a three-footer or a thirty-footer,” Ko said.

“It’s really tough and because (the hole) is so tight, the lip-outs, they hurt. They’re not nice here. The greens are one of the hardest parts and because (they) are so firm, it affects the shots that are coming into the green also.

“On a course like this, unless you really get going on a putting streak, you’re not going to make seven, eight birdies and shoot the most incredible eight under.

“I think this course you really have to play smart and when you have those chances, try (to) grab it because birdies are hard to see.”

Ko will tee up on Sunday alongside power-hitting Thai Ariya Jutanugarn at seven under, one clear of a Korean with a strong Aussie twist, Amy Yang.

Lurking three shots from the lead are Paraguayan Julieta Granada and suddenly white-hot Aussie Katherine Kirk, who charged into contention with a withering back-nine run on a day when others simply withered in stifling heat. Kirk, runner-up in last week’s Australian Ladies Masters, was as far back as one over after an indifferent bogey on the short par-five 10th.

But five birdies in the next six holes propelled the amiable Queenslander right into the mix as the lead changed hands repeatedly in the final groups.

“It’s not easy to make birdies out there and I made six today and I’m still kind of a little puzzled as to how,” she joked.

“I know I made two long putts, so they’re just bonuses. I think that was probably as good as it was going to get today.”

Crowd favourite Kirk said it would be a dream come true to get her hands on the Patricia Bridges Bowl tomorrow.

“I’d be very honoured. I actually had the pleasure of travelling on an Australian team in 2002 to Malaysia to play the (World Amateur Teams Championship) and Patricia made the trip and she’s just an incredible lady,” Kirk said.

“I’d be delighted to hoist the trophy and certainly proud to fly the flag for Australia tomorrow.”

Kirk wasn’t the only Aussie to shine in a dramatic third round.

West Australian Minjee Lee isn’t out of the hunt after a 72 left her square overall, while veterans Karrie Webb and Rachel Hetherington each shot 71 after going out in the second group of the day only to roar through the 73-woman field and finish tied for 27th.

Round 2 - Youngsters dominating leaderboard

February 20, 2015
xLydia Ko, R2 ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open

by Mark Hayes & Martin Blake

If you’re feeling a little long in the tooth, it’s best not to look at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open leader board. The top four heading into weekend battle have a combined age of just 76 and the oldest just 22.

And while world No.1 Lydia Ko will justifiably hog the headlines, it’s a talented trio around her with boom Thai Ariya Jutanugarn and Korean world No.20 Ha-Na Jang locked alongside the New Zealander at six under par. And with English 18-year-old sensation Charley Hull outright fourth at four under, it’s a new wave that appears set to rule Royal Melbourne.

Jang’s 69 was the only sub-70 round on a day when mothernature and the toughening Composite Course took a toll on the competitors.

With an average score of 76.4, rounds took almost six hours to complete after early-morning fog delays. Ko was spectacular in parts, firing an imperious eagle on the par-four 15th by holing out with a nine-iron from 124m. But the occasional bogey kept the chasing pack in the mix.

Remarkably, only once – the 2012 Canadian Women’s Open – has Ko held or shared the lead after the first two rounds and gone on to win.

Jang, a multiple winner in Asia, is already making her mark in her maiden LPGA Tour season, riding a very simple game plan that gave up just two bogeys.

“I think only very simple thinking, fairway and green and then two putts and that’s it, no more thinking,” Jang said.

Jutanugarn three-putted the first hole, but ignited her round with a long eagle on the par-five 10th to shoot a 71 before promising tomorrow’s big occasion wouldn’t alter her game plan.“No, I’ll just enjoy it and have fun. (It’s) why we play,” she said.

Of the Australians, Queenslander Katherine Kirk is best placed to strike, tied for eighth at one under despite missing several makeable chances with the blade late in her round.

Perth’s Minjee Lee made a solid move, firing a two-under-par 71 to slide into the top 20 in just her third tournament as an LPGA professional.

But the biggest local news was that of Karrie Webb’s battle to make the cut. The world No.9 made a par up the last to shore up her weekend berth, although she’s 11 shots from the lead and with her title defence in doubt.

“It’s actually hard to get in there and fully trust what you’re doing when you do hit a good shot and it goes over the back,” Webb said after her round.

“But I need to do that more. At this stage I’m not thinking about a result; I’m thinking about bringing on to the course what I’m doing in practice.”

Comeback queen Rachel Hetherington also made the cut on the number with a par on the last to finish over. Among those who missed out were past winners Yani Tseng and Dame Laura Davies while Aussies Sarah Jane Smith, Stacey Keating and last weekend’s RACV Ladies Masters winner Su Oh will all get a sleep-in.

Round 1 - Lee takes slim opening lead in Melbourne

February 19, 2015
Ilhee Lee, R1 ISPS HANDA Women's Australian Open

The world is breathing down her neck, but ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open leader Ilhee Lee has a bigger mission in mind. She wants to be the highest ranked Lee in this world-class field.

So joked the Korean 26-year-old after a blemish-free 68 left her at five under and a one-shot leader from boom Thai teenager Ariya Jutanugarn, with world No.1 Lydia Ko a shot further back in a tie for third.

But there are 49 players at one over or better on a jam-packed leaderboard that features several Australians including Katherine Kirk (-1), Rebecca Artis (-1), Karrie Webb (E) and comeback queen Rachel Hetherington (E).

Perth prospect Minjee Lee finished at three over, yet remained in the news as one of the targets of the quirky leader.

The delightful Korean, winner of the 2013 Bahamas Classic on the LPGA Tour, said she wanted to become as famous as some of her supremely talented countrywomen. But more, she had an odd goal that suddenly seems very achievable.

“I think there are (five) Lees in the field this week. They’re not all from Korea, but still, lots of Lees. I want to be the most famous Lee, that’s my goal.”

Lee has led just once after the first round of an LPGA Tour event – in Malaysia in 2013 when she finished third.

Lee said she only made a late decision to come to Melbourne after her coach, World Golf Hall of Fame member Sandra Haynie, convinced her she had the game to contend on a course that claimed her before the cut in her only previous Sandbelt appearance in 2012.

“It’s good to see how improved my golf is this year … because I was here in 2012 (and) how I see the golf course at that time and now (is) totally different,” she said.

“It’s really, really fun to see how much I improved since then.”

Pressed as to what had changed in her mind. Lee smiled and said: “The thirteenth hole (the 3rd on Royal Melbourne’s West Course), that hole in 2012 (was) very narrow and tough, but now I can see big fairway.”

“I (now) see the right thing first, I see how I manage the golf course better and then my drive’s better than then and swing’s got better, putting’s better, everything’s much better than that time.”

Ko battled a persistent cough to loom large, but Jutanugarn possibly overshadowed the Kiwi sensation. At 19 and in an injury-interrupted career, the Thai star has never finished worse than 11th in seven previous LPGA Tour starts and has the power game to help tame Royal Melbourne’s par fives.

Scores

Pos.
Player
Score
R1 R2 R3 R4
Total
Prize Money $
1
Lydia Ko
-9
70 70 72 71
283
180,000
2
Amy Yang
-7
73 70 70 72
285
110,822
3
Ariya Jutanugarn
-4
69 71 72 76
288
80,393
4
Jenny Shin
-2
76 71 74 69
290
51,067
4
Il Hee Lee
-2
68 82 69 71
290
51,067
4
Chella Choi
-2
72 75 71 72
290
51,067
7
Minjee Lee
-1
76 71 72 72
291
27,728
7
Charley Hull
-1
71 71 76 73
291
27,728
7
Paz Echeverria
-1
71 76 71 73
291
27,728
7
Ha-Na Jang
-1
71 69 76 75
291
27,728
7
Julieta Granada
-1
73 72 70 76
291
27,728
12
Mika Miyazato
E
73 74 74 71
292
19,355
12
Kyu-Jung Baek
E
77 72 71 72
292
19,355
12
Jessica Korda
E
72 71 75 74
292
19,355
12
Gwladys Nocera
E
71 73 74 74
292
19,355
16
Karrie Webb
1
73 78 71 71
293
15,472
16
Marianne Skarpnord
1
75 72 73 73
293
15,472
16
Beatriz Recari
1
75 71 72 75
293
15,472
16
Katherine Kirk
1
72 73 70 78
293
15,472
20
Pernilla Lindberg
2
76 74 71 73
294
13,955
21
Tiffany Joh
3
72 75 76 72
295
12,287
21
Shanshan Feng
3
74 74 74 73
295
12,287
21
Sydnee Michaels
3
73 76 73 73
295
12,287
21
So Yeon Ryu
3
77 74 71 73
295
12,287
21
Melissa Reid
3
71 74 75 75
295
12,287
21
Beth Allen
3
78 71 70 76
295
12,287
27
Laetitia Beck
4
78 71 73 74
296
10,314
27
Mo Martin
4
77 73 72 74
296
10,314
27
Catriona Matthew
4
74 74 72 76
296
10,314
30
Marina Alex
5
72 77 73 75
297
9,162
30
Marion Ricordeau
5
72 73 76 76
297
9,162
30
Mina Harigae
5
75 71 73 78
297
9,162
33
Katie Burnett
6
74 75 78 71
298
7,933
33
Amy Anderson
6
77 72 77 72
298
7,933
33
Ssu-Chai Cheng
6
76 73 77 72
298
7,933
33
Holly Clyburn
6
73 75 75 75
298
7,933
37
Mariajo Uribe
7
72 76 79 72
299
6,720
37
Sarah Kemp
7
77 73 77 72
299
6,720
37
Alena Sharp
7
70 78 75 76
299
6,720
37
Mi Hyang Lee
7
75 70 76 78
299
6,720
41
Min Seo Kwak
8
70 81 75 74
300
5,825
41
Kelly Tan
8
74 73 75 78
300
5,825
41
Rachel Hetherington
8
73 78 71 78
300
5,825
44
Cheyenne Woods
9
74 75 80 72
301
4,556
44
Karine Icher
9
75 73 79 74
301
4,556
44
Chloe Leurquin
9
75 75 77 74
301
4,556
44
Lisa Mccloskey
9
75 76 76 74
301
4,556
44
Alison Walshe
9
74 75 77 75
301
4,556
44
Anne-Lise Caudal
9
75 75 76 75
301
4,556
44
Ayako Uehara
9
72 75 78 76
301
4,556
44
Kylie Walker
9
75 73 77 76
301
4,556
44
Ai Miyazato
9
73 75 77 76
301
4,556
44
Nikki Garrett
9
79 72 74 76
301
4,556
54
Min Lee
10
72 78 81 71
302
3,580
54
Sophie Walker
10
73 76 78 75
302
3,580
54
Christina Kim
10
74 71 81 76
302
3,580
54
Maria Mcbride
10
74 77 74 77
302
3,580
58
Ju Young Park
11
73 78 79 73
303
3,155
58
Maria Hernandez
11
75 74 80 74
303
3,155
58
Kristy Mcpherson
11
75 76 77 75
303
3,155
61
Wei Ling Hsu
12
78 73 80 73
304
2,943
61
Na Yeon Choi
12
74 74 73 83
304
2,943
63
Kendall Dye
13
78 71 80 76
305
2,852
64
Christine Wolf
14
75 72 78 81
306
2,791
65
Rebecca Artis
15
72 77 80 78
307
2,730
66
Garrett Phillips
16
74 77 79 78
308
2,579
66
Ann-Kathrin Lindner
16
78 73 79 78
308
2,579
66
Karlin Beck
16
74 77 77 80
308
2,579
66
Amy Boulden
16
77 74 77 80
308
2,579
70
Kris Tamulis
17
75 76 82 76
309
2,412
70
Brooke Pancake
17
71 78 83 77
309
2,412
72
Mallory Blackwelder
18
75 75 78 82
310
2,366
73
Christel Boeljon
20
76 73 82 81
312
2,366
The Cut
74
Whitney Hillier
6
78 74        
152
74
Dewi Claire Schreefel
6
77 75        
152
74
Sakura Yokomine
6
77 75        
152
74
Jennifer Johnson
6
76 76        
152
74
Becky Morgan
6
76 76        
152
74
Therese Koelbaek
6
75 77        
152
74
Ryann O Toole
6
72 80        
152
81
Shelly Shin (a)
7
79 74        
153
81
Simin Feng
7
76 77        
153
81
Sophie Gustafson
7
76 77        
153
81
Eun-Hee Ji
7
76 77        
153
81
Kelly Shon
7
75 78        
153
81
Jennifer Song
7
74 79        
153
87
Kristie Smith
8
82 72        
154
87
Julia Boland
8
78 76        
154
87
Sarah-Jane Smith
8
78 76        
154
87
Moriya Jutanugarn
8
77 77        
154
87
Amelia Lewis
8
77 77        
154
87
I.K. Kim
8
77 77        
154
87
Dori Carter
8
76 78        
154
87
Seon Hwa Lee
8
75 79        
154
87
Valentine Derrey
8
75 79        
154
87
Danah Bordner
8
74 80        
154
87
Haru Nomura
8
74 80        
154
98
Tamie Durdin
9
82 73        
155
98
Stacey Keating
9
81 74        
155
98
Ye Jin Kim
9
79 76        
155
98
Caroline Masson
9
78 77        
155
98
Jane Park
9
78 77        
155
98
Emma De Groot
9
78 77        
155
98
Jennifer Rosales
9
77 78        
155
98
Connie Chen
9
77 78        
155
98
Jackie Stoelting
9
77 78        
155
98
Belen Mozo
9
77 78        
155
98
Keiko Kubo
9
77 78        
155
98
Marta Sanz
9
75 80        
155
98
Jennifer Gleason
9
74 81        
155
98
Lorie Kane
9
74 81        
155
112
Karin Sjodin
10
82 74        
156
112
Jaclyn Sweeney
10
81 75        
156
112
Jessica Speechley
10
80 76        
156
112
Bree Arthur
10
80 76        
156
112
Sophia Popov
10
80 76        
156
112
Caroline Martens
10
79 77        
156
112
Kim Kaufman
10
78 78        
156
112
Cathryn Bristow
10
77 79        
156
120
Marissa Steen
11
79 78        
157
120
Jaye Marie Green
11
79 78        
157
120
Su-Hyun Oh
11
79 78        
157
120
Danielle Montgomery
11
79 78        
157
120
Thidapa Suwannapura
11
78 79        
157
120
Ching-Tzu Chen (a)
11
78 79        
157
120
Gerina Piller
11
75 82        
157
127
Stephanie Na
12
80 78        
158
127
Paula Reto
12
79 79        
158
127
Giulia Sergas
12
79 79        
158
127
Liv Cheng
12
79 79        
158
127
Konomi Matsumoto (a)
12
78 80        
158
127
Corie Hou
12
78 80        
158
127
Isabelle Boineau
12
77 81        
158
127
Camilla Lennarth
12
76 82        
158
135
Demi Runas
13
79 80        
159
136
Joanna Klatten
14
81 79        
160
136
Adriana Brent
14
75 85        
160
138
Florentyna Parker
15
84 77        
161
138
Sadena Parks
15
83 78        
161
138
Perrine Delacour
15
83 78        
161
138
Laura Davies
15
81 80        
161
138
Alison Whitaker
15
80 81        
161
138
Yani Tseng
15
79 82        
161
144
Jenna Hunter
16
85 77        
162
144
Vicky Thomas
16
80 82        
162
144
Carly Booth
16
76 86        
162
147
So-Jin Baik
17
74 89        
163
148
Lee-Anne Pace
19
82 83        
165
148
Cherie Alison
19
78 87        
165
150
Breanna Elliott
20
82 84        
166
151
Hannah Collier
23
86 83        
169
152
Julie Greciet
28
87 87        
174
RETD
Lisa Ferrero
       
RETD
Christine Song
       
RETD
Line Vedel
       

Preview

DATES:  February 19-22
SITE: Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Black Rock, Victoria
FORMAT: 72-hole stroke play event
PRIZE MONEY: US$ 1.2 million
WINNER: US$ 180,000
Click here for tournament stats & info

The last time the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open was held at Royal Melbourne, the result was a six-way playoff that matched the largest in LPGA history. With a clutch birdie on the second playoff hole, Jessica Korda made a bit of history of her own.

The title ensured Korda’s family holds a title no one else in the world can claim. Her father, retired professional tennis player Petr Korda, had his greatest triumph here in Melbourne as well winning the 1998 Australian Open. One family, two different Australian Open championships.

Korda’s bags didn’t come in tow when she arrived to Melbourne on Sunday, so she took the Monday without clubs to go visit her father’s old stomping grounds at Rod Laver Arena.

“That was the first time there since I was a baby and went there with my dad. It looked completely different,” Korda said. “But it was just cool to go back. It’s the court of history and something I wanted to go see.”

Korda peppered her dad with pictures and while he admitted he was jealous, he was more interested in her impressions of Royal Melbourne after being back. Korda admitted she was reflecting walking around and said she was showing her caddy during the 12 holes she played Tuesday where she hit it during her win.

“Certain places he doesn’t want me to repeat again and certain places he was quite impressed with,” Korda said with a laugh.

As for the course, the layout is much different with the course tipping out at 6,741 yards this year, but everything else seems the same.

“The greens are very firm. They’re very bouncy, exactly how I remember them. They’re faster, definitely seem faster, but the fairways aren’t rolling out as much,” Korda said. “It’s a little different.”

Woods feeling home: Cheyenne Woods defended her first professional title a week ago the Ladies Masters in Australia and although she didn’t repeat, Woods came away pleased with where her game is at. Woods was disappointed with a second-round 78 that shot her out of contention but liked what she saw out of her game the rest of the week in which she was 2-under total through the three rounds.

“It was a great experience. I didn’t feel any pressure going in really. I had great memories there at Royal Pines. I felt comfortable. Obviously I didn’t play as well as I would have liked, but I was still pretty happy with my finish,” Woods said. “Was nice to have my mom come. She wasn’t there last year so she was able to see where I was last year and how I won and stuff. Overall it was good last week.”

In addition to defending, Woods also got her chance to take a helicopter ride last week and already has her eye on what she wants to do in Melbourne this week.

“I’d like to go to the Eureka building and go out on the glass floor, which sounded pretty fun,” Woods said.

Ryu looking for wins: Consistency is great but So Yeon Ryu has her eye on more. Few players on Tour have been more consistent on Tour and although Ryu’s happy with her first three seasons on Tour, she has grander plans for 2015. She thinks back to the Australian Open at Royal Melbourne to start her rookie season in 2012 and it’s kind of come to encapsulate her first three seasons. She was really close to winning, missing a putt for an outright win in the playoff, but didn’t quite get it done despite some great golf. She felt like it shouldn’t even have gotten to that point after making bogey at the last to force a six-player playoff. She’s since won twice but not as many times as she would have liked and feels her game’s to the point where the wins should match her consistency of top 10s.

“I think this year is very important to me,” Ryu said. “I played really consistently well the last three years, but at the same time I lost a lot. But one thing I really trust in myself is I feel like I’ve improved a lot. If I compare myself to when I won the U.S. Women’s Open, my golf level is way better than four years ago. I think now is the time for more wins.”

Ryu was particularly disappointed in that loss three years ago here because of what it would have meant to her team.”Australia is such a special place to me. All my stuff is Australian - coach is Australian, caddie is Australian, physio is Australian. Everybody calls me 50 percent Australian because I love veggie mite, and I just love everything about the Australian culture. So i just really want to make a really great win, not just for me.”

To put it into perspective just how special Ryu’s been since joining the Tour, she’s finished in the top six on the official money list each of those three years. But she wants more wins and if she keeps climbing into contention every week, those are sure to come.

Feng finding potential Olympic teammates: Whether it’s a result of her success or not, Shanshan Feng’s happy to see the trend developing on the LPGA Tour over the last two years.

“Two [Chinese] rookies on the LPGA last year and two more rookies this year. So this year we have five Chinese girls on the LPGA,” Feng said. “The Chinese girls are doing well and other than me the other ofur are all below 20. But I still feel really happy because the first six years on the Tour I was by myself but now I’m one of five, so I’m really happy. So I hope in another five years there will be 20.”
If that develops, the entire country of China will know who Feng is. Right now she says she has the perfect level of fame, where golfers in China know who she is, but the average everyday person doesn’t.

She can still walk down the sidewalk or have dinner out and not be bothered. But if golf reaches the level of popularity she envisions and hopes for over the coming years, that could all change.

“I would be happy because if I become more famous, then it means golf is getting more popular so that’s the good thing. The bad thing is I’d lose my freedom,” Feng said.

More than fame or notoriety, though, Feng’s goal is simple: Surpass Inbee Park.

Do that and the rest will take care of itself. Feng’s already up to No. 4 in the world and has always set a goal of passing Inbee. Although Lydia Ko has now overtaken No. 1, her good friend Park set the gold standard in her mind years ago and she’s been chasing her pace ever since.

“It has always been Inbee for a while. My goal is still Inbee because I’ve never passed her,” Feng said.

Numbers to know:
5 - Karrie Webb has won this tournament five times.
8- Eight different Americans have already registered a top 10 this year through two events, a scary sign for a European team that’s only registered one so far.
42- The number of top-10s So Yeon Ryu has had on the LPGA Tour since joining full-time in 2012.
73- The Royal Melbourne Golf Club - Composite Course will play to a par 73 this week with the back-nine coming in at par 38.
2012 - Jessica Korda’s first career win came here in 2012 at Royal Melbourne - the only other time Royal Melbourne has hosted a women’s professional golf event.

Quote of the day: “He’s such a character - even on the golf course. Sometimes when I make a crazy birdie, he dances. He really makes me laugh a lot and of course he makes me angry quite a lot of times (laughter). But I’m really lucky to have Tom Watson.”

- So Yeon Ryu on her Australian caddie Tom Watson





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