World No. 8 Shanshan Feng closed out her remarkable 2016 Asian Swing with a 1-shot victory at the TOTO Japan Classic. The win was the 6th of her career and 2nd of the 2016 season. With the win, Feng joined fellow back-to-back 2016 event winners Ariya Jutanugarn and Lydia Ko as she also hoisted the trophy the previous week at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

“Before this week, I’ve won 16 times as a professional but I’d never got back-to-back wins,” Feng said. “Yesterday after my round I got an interview and people were asking me ‘what do you think about maybe winning back-to-back?” and I said it’d be interesting if I do it so I feel really happy right now.”

Shanshan Feng continued her bogey-free golf from the previous day with 8 straight pars to begin her final round. As Feng made the turn, she hit the gas pedal and knocked in three-straight birdies on 9,10 and 11 to put some distance between her and the field. The birdie on the 10th was an impressive 25-footer.

The exclamation point came on the par-5 17th where Feng put her 2nd shot on the green and left a 15-foot eagle putt inches away from the hole. Feng settled for a tap-in birdie and extended her lead to 3-shots. The 3-shot buffer was critical as she pulled her tee-shot on the 18th through the rough and under a tree. Feng was forced to chip back into the fairway and settled for a double-bogey, her first blemish in 49 holes. 

“Normally I have a habit where I don’t look at leaderboards when I play but I accidentally saw the board when I was on the 17th green so I actually knew I was leading by three going into the last hole,” Feng said. “Then I hit the drive left and hit it on the green with my third shot and then I thought easy two putt but the first putt I just hit it way too hard and the second putt I missed and left myself a three footer and said “it’s time to make this putt”. I don’t want to lose by making a triple bogey on the last but I made it and it was pressure relieved.”

Feng defeated Ha Na Jang by 1 shot and there was a 4-way tie for 3rd place - Kotone Hori, So Yeon Ryu, Sun-Ju Ahn and Soo-Yun Kang.

Feng admits to struggling during the first half of the 2016 season but credits winning the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics for boosting her confidence and sparking her recent play.

“When I was in Rio I didn’t set any goals but I knew all of the Chinese people would be watching so I made sure that I should be smiling whether I was playing well or not.” Feng explained following her 2nd win of the season. “That really helped, because I think I had other mind sets, so I actually brought out my A-game again. I finished 3rd and got my bronze medal at the Olympics and I really got my confidence back after that so I know that I’m still Shanshan and I can still win.”


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Photo Credit: 2016 Getty Images