Shanshan Feng defends title at Japan Classic, and new World No. 1 is likely

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Shanshan Feng defends title at Japan Classic, and new World No. 1 is likely

LPGA Tour

Shanshan Feng defends title at Japan Classic, and new World No. 1 is likely

Shanshan Feng’s last three starts in Asia: 3-2-1.

“Can we just keep playing here?” joked Feng, who successfully defended her title at the Toto Japan Classic.

Of Feng’s eight career LPGA titles, five have come in Asia. In addition to the $225,000 winner’s check, the Olympic bronze medalist also took home a Mercedes-Benz GLA 180, a pearl necklace and a year’s supply of yogurt, egg and rice.

Feng, who has six career wins on the Japan LPGA, took it easy after arriving in Japan for the 54-hole event.

“We arrived Monday morning and I went straight to the outlet mall,” said Feng, “just like usual. I damaged a little money there and got myself a couple handbags, and of course I went for really good food in Tokyo. I came over to the hotel on Tuesday and just attended the pro-am party and that was it.”

While Feng took off the first few days, Sung Hyun Park took off the entire week and still came out ahead. LPGA projections state that Park will overtake So Yeon Ryu on Monday as Rolex No. 1. Ryu needed a top-six finish to hold off the hotshot rookie but tied for 33rd.

Park, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open champion, has eight top-5 finishes this season, including a pair of victories.

Feng, ranked No. 4, won at the Taiheiyo Club on the strength of a second-round 63, which matched the lowest round of her career and tied the tournament record. Her 19-under 197 total edged Ai Suzuki of Japan by two strokes. Suzuki has won twice this year on the JLPGA and ranks second on that tour’s money list.

Feng, 28, became the third player in LPGA history to go back-to-back at the Toto Japan Classic, joining Annika Sorenstam (2001-2005), Woo-Soon Ko (1994, 1995) and Betsky King (1992, 1993).

Anna Nordqvist placed solo third, four strokes back. She aced the par-3 third hole in the final round with a 4-iron from 193 yards, the third of her LPGA career.

Ryu might have dipped in the world rankings but she’s still eyeing another big goal to end 2017: Rolex Player of the Year. She’s currently 14 points ahead of Park. Ryu will rest a sore shoulder next week prior to the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, while Park competes in China.

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