Feng wins Wegmans Championship, first Chinese to win on LPGA Tour

Shanshan Feng at the Wegmans LPGA Championship
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Shanshan Feng, the only player from China on the LPGA Tour, fired a 67, the lowest round of the week, on Sunday to capture the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
John Kekis
Associated Press

Series: LPGA Tour

Published: Sunday, June 10, 2012 | 8:12 p.m.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Shanshan Feng won the Wegmans LPGA Championship on Sunday to become the first Chinese player to win an LPGA Tour title and a major event, closing with a 5-under 67 for a two-stroke victory.

The 22-year-old Feng, the only player from mainland China on the tour, had the lowest round of the tournament at the right time and finished at 6-under 282.


The LPGA Championship began in 1955, and is one of four LPGA majors.

"I am so excited right now," Feng said. "I did it!"

Stacy Lewis, bidding to win her third straight stroke-play event on the LPGA Tour, shot a 70 to tie for second with Mika Miyazato, Suzann Pettersen and third-round leader Eun-Hee Ji. Miyazato shot 69, Pettersen 70, and Ji 72.

Karrie Webb, who started the day one shot behind Ji, had a 72 to finish at 3 under. Little-known Gerina Piller, a star in college at Texas-El Paso and the wife of PGA Tour player Martin Piller, and Ai Miyazato each had a closing 68 to also finish at 3 under.

Paula Creamer had a 71, and Giulia Sergas and Inbee Park shot 72 to finish another shot back.

Defending champion Yani Tseng had a closing 76 and was 13 over in a tournament she won a year ago by 10 shots.

Feng joined a growing list players who have broken through for their first career victory at the LPGA Championship. Anna Nordqvist did it in 2008 and Tseng in 2009 were the last two of the seven who have accomplished the feat.

Over the first three days, Ji and Webb had notched the lowest score -- 68 -- on the Locust Hill Country Club course, its narrow fairways and long, thick rough providing a challenge worthy of a major.

Tseng last year and Cristie Kerr in 2010 won this tournament with 19-under scores, Kerr by a record 12 shots and Tseng by 10. With difficult conditions over the first three days, nobody was able to break away, and only 13 players began the day under par.

But under a blue sky with only the hint of a breeze, a breakthrough by somebody seemed likely. That it ended up being the only player from China with an LPGA Tour card and no career wins didn't seem likely.

Feng was nearly flawless, making five birdies without a bogey, hitting 11 of 14 fairways and reaching 16 greens in regulation. She even laughed with her caddie after barely missing a birdie putt at No. 16 while nursing a one-shot lead over Mika Miyazato.

Feng shrugged off an errant drive into a fairway bunker at the par-5 17th hole, hitting her third shot close to the pin and made birdie for a two-shot lead that nobody challenged. She closed with a par, hitting her drive right down the middle of the fairway on one of the most difficult scoring holes on the course. Unfazed when her second shot found rough at the edge of the green, she chipped inside 2 feet and made par to secure the victory.

The 26-year-old Ji is no stranger to Locust Hill, having captured her first career LPGA Tour victory here in the 2008 Wegmans LPGA, when the Rochester stop with a regular tour event.

She had eight pars and a bogey on the front side and a bogey at 10 dropped her three shots behind the leaders. She rallied on the back side with birdies at Nos. 13, 15, and 16 but couldn't keep it going over the final two holes.

Creamer is a crowd favorite and when she teed off the entire right side of the fairway was lined with spectators cheering for her. "Get `em, Paula!" one shouted after Creamer blasted a solid drive.

Three shots behind to start the day after slumping on the third round, Creamer parred the first three holes and made birdie at the par-5 fourth hole to move two shots back. She faltered with a bogey at the par-3 ninth hole when her drive landed in the greenside rough and she was unable to get up and down, then saved par at the 10th hole with a clutch putt from the fringe.

Even with the gallery rooting hard, Creamer, who was dreading this tournament because of the death in March of her 94-year-old grandfather, Tom, her biggest fan, couldn't muster anything on the back side.

The final twosome of Webb and Ji both hit great drives to start, and when Ji hit her second shot inside 8 feet, Webb duplicated it as a fan shouted "Game On!"

Ji missed, but Webb sank hers to tie for the lead at 4 under with Ji and Pettersen, who birdied the second and third holes.

Webb faltered with bogey at No. 3 as Pettersen continued a front-nine surge with a long birdie putt at the par-3 fifth hole. The long-hitting Norwegian star clenched her right fist and pulled her arm back in celebration as she gained sole possession of the lead at 5 under.

Feng had two birdies over her first six holes to move one shot behind and nearly took the outright lead at No. 8. But her eagle try slid just past the hole and she settled for a tie with Ji and Pettersen.

Pettersen won the 2007 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock, beating Webb by one shot, but has had not-so-great moments in major play, having been a runner-up three times at Kraft Nabisco. The most painful was in 2007 when she lost to Morgan Pressel, blowing a four-shot lead over the final holes. She was solid on this day at the start and regained the lead with a birdie at No. 8, making the turn at 5 under.

A birdie by Feng at No. 12 moved her into a tie with Pettersen and Piller, who had only one top-10 finish since her rookie year two years ago.

Piller started the day at 1 over, five shots off the lead, but quickly made her way up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front side. Birdies at Nos. 11, 14 and 16 made her 9 under through a 19-hole stretch and moved her into a tie for the lead at 5 under.

But Piller found trouble at par-5 17th, which she eagled Saturday to begin her steady rise. She drove under a tree into the thick rough and her punch shot out clipped some leaves and she dropped two shots when her short bogey putt slid just past the cup.

Pettersen found rough on two straight shots at No. 13, chipped well past the pin and settled for bogey to fall one shot behind Feng. Pettersen drove the rough again at the 14th hole and again made bogey to fall two shots behind and never recovered.

Webb birdied No. 11 to reach 4 under again but gave it right back on the next hole when she drove into the rough and couldn't salvage par. Webb birdied Nos. 16 and 17, but like Ji her rush came too late.