Feng among stars at new LPGA event
20 Jun 2012 - 20:49:50
Feng Shanshan, coming off the first major triumph for a Chinese golfer, will try to continue her success starting Thursday at the inaugural $1.3 million Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
Feng jumped from 10th to fifth in the world rankings after her victory two weeks ago at the LPGA Championship, her historic triumph securing her a spot among the rising new stars of the women's tour.
Coming off the retirements of Swedish star Annika Sorenstam and Mexico's Lorena Ochoa, the LPGA has found new faces such as Feng and World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan to mix with familiar veterans to sustain the circuit.
"I don't know if it's the tour's responsibility or us as players to step up and take over," Canadian LPGA veteran Lorie Kane said.
"I believe the tour is stronger now than it ever has been, the depth of young players that week in and week out can win.
"Losing Annika and Lorena, sure, was not good, but we've got an awful lot of talented young women who are stepping up in different ways, when I think of Yani and how unbelievable she has been playing, the appeal that Paula Creamer has, Morgan (Pressel), Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak... our game is very healthy."
Tseng is absent this week but Feng will face a challenge from World No. 2 Stacy Lewis of the United States, Norway's World No. 4 Suzann Pettersen and 11th-ranked Creamer, an American.
The event, one of five new LPGA events this season, features 144 players in quest of a $195,000 top prize at Grey Silo Golf Course, about an hour's drive from Toronto.
Lewis has won twice in her past five starts and has jumped from seventh to second in the world. Pettersen and Creamer each finished in the top 10 at the LPGA Championship but each is seeking her first victory of the season.
Two young Canadians could figure in the title hunt this weekend, amateur Jennifer Kirby and Maude-Aimee Leblanc, one of nine Canadian LPGA Tour players.
"If she gets it all together and can manage herself and can learn to live out here, she's going to be a talent to be reckoned with," Kane said of Leblanc.
"I've never seen a woman hit it as far as she does," added Alena Sharp, another LPGA Canadian.
Kirby, a University of Alabama junior, helped her school capture the 2012 US college team title last month.
"It was incredible," Kirby said. "It's the icing on the cake for a good year for me and our team. For all your hard work to pay off, it was really special."