Shanshan Feng stands out with opening 66 at U.S. Women's Open

Shanshan Feng USGA

Shanshan Feng stands out with opening 66 at U.S. Women's Open

LPGA Tour

Shanshan Feng stands out with opening 66 at U.S. Women's Open

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – With two majors being staged in the span of three weeks, plenty of top players took off the week leading into the U.S. Women’s Open.

Not Shanshan Feng.

She flew to China to play in the Kumho Tire Ladies Open. To help media in the room with spelling, Feng grabbed onto the logo on her shirt. Only a sponsorship obligation could lead to such a whirlwind schedule.

Feng fired a 6-under 66 on a steamy day at Trump National Golf Club to take a one-shot lead over Amy Yang in the first round. Lydia Ko and So Yeon Ryu are two shots back at 4 under.

The Chinese star birdied three of her first four holes to post 31 on her front side. Feng started her round on No. 10 and played alongside fellow Olympic medal winners Inbee Park and Lydia Ko.

“I really love the course,” said Feng. “I think this course suits my game because it really requires accuracy, especially for the second shot into the greens.”

For the past five seasons, Feng has ranked either fifth or sixth on the LPGA in greens in regulation. She likes to keep her swing simple, and said her main focus is on tempo.

Feng, now in her 10th season on the LPGA, felt she had underachieved prior to the Olympics. She’d collected plenty of career tops 10s (66 to date), but “wanted to win more.” Feng, 27, owned four LPGA titles heading Rio last August. Capturing the bronze medal inspired Feng to play more aggressively. The result: three titles in the past nine months.

Feng’s longtime instructor Gary Gilchrist said Feng has a tremendous golfing IQ. Her ability to brush off bad rounds in particular stands out.

When asked how she was able to push aside a second-round 77 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Feng genuinely forgot about the round.

“I think I allow myself to make mistakes,” she said.

Feng is also not one to offer an excuse. She was set to fly from Weihai, China, to Beijing at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, but her flight got delayed and didn’t depart until 3 a.m. She stayed up all night and then flew to Newark from Beijing, arriving on Monday around noon. Feng played nine holes on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday.

“I would say the traveling is getting tougher for sure,” said Feng, “to adjust to the jet lag. I mean, it’s not that easy anymore. But I mean this is my 10th year on tour. I should be able to perform well in any condition because I’m a professional.”

Feng wore her signature cow print in the opening round. She likes the idea that she stands out on the golf course and can be “spotted” from far away.

“I think that’s good to bring out your personality,” said Feng, whose humor often leaves a room in stitches.

Like the way she answered a question about her thoughts on American culture. Feng pointed to her love of American cuisine, particularly steak and buffalo wings.

“If you don’t like the food, how can you survive here?” she asked. “I think that’s maybe one of the reasons why I’ve been doing so well, because I love the food and I can sleep well and I forget bad things quickly.”

The opening round at Trump National was one to remember.

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