Back to business: China’s Feng Shanshan on Olympic Games high ahead of final major

The 27-year-old claimed a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro, but is now ready for this week’s Evian Championship

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 7:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 7:07pm

China’s Feng Shanshan goes into the fifth and final major of the women’s season at the Evian Championship still basking in the glory of claiming a medal at last month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Feng took the bronze behind Park In-bee and Lydia Ko, and she joined in a huge welcome home celebration back home.

“I was going to play two tournaments in Canada, but then heard that our president was going to meet all the athletes from Rio so I decided to skip both events and go home,” said the world number 15.

“When we landed in Guangzhou it was a huge surprise. There were loads of people waiting at the exit and it made me feel like a star.

“I think this is what the Olympics had done for golf. It’s just so special.

“The medallists were in the front row and when we met the president, most people didn’t say anything. But I said ‘President, you’re so handsome.’ I really meant it, and it was a compliment. But I also thought it was funny.”

Feng then spent the next few days partying with her fiends in Guangzhou – and lost her voice singing at a karaoke club.

“The Olympics has done my confidence a lot of good,” said Feng, who claimed her one and only major at the 2012 LPGA Championship.

Feng’s best finish this year is fifth on the LPGA Tour and she reckons a slight loss of accuracy and inconsistent putting are the barricades to the winning circle.

“I did lose my confidence, but practised hard before the Olympics and the work has paid off,” she said.

Feng is certain the Olympics status will help golf in China.

“We separate sports into two categories – Olympic and non-Olympic,” she explained. “So, previously, not many people were paying attention to golf.

“But, in Rio, there were so many people watching us on television. My LPGA Championship nearly have the same impact back home as my bronze medal.”

So her chances of winning Evian starting Thursday? “I’ve always loved it here,” she said, after a practice round in blazing sunshine.

“The course is in great condition and the views are spectacular.

“Whenever I come here I don’t think about the result, I just enjoy. I’m feeling good this time.”

Park, who missed her defence of the Women’s British Open due to a thumb injury, has had a recurrence of the same problem and is an absentee.

Ko is the defending champion, and is chasing her third major after she won the ANA Inspiration in California in March.