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September 13, 2016

Shanshan Feng

Evian-les-Bains, France

THE MODERATOR: It's my pleasure to welcome in Rolex Ranking's No. 15 and now we can introduce you officially as Olympic bronze medalist Shanshan Feng. Shanshan, congratulations first and foremost. I'm sure some of these folks haven't seen you or been able to congratulate you since your time in Rio. But first just take us through what these past couple weeks have been. You were home in China. We saw the reception at the airport and the fans and what all the people of China have done. So just take us through these past few weeks and that performance in Rio a few weeks ago.

SHANSHAN FENG: I was actually going to play both of the tournaments in Canada, but I figured after I actually got a medal, our President is actually going to meet all of us, all the athletes from China. And then I was like, it's a great chance, I wanted to meet our President. So I went back home. I skipped both of the tournaments in Canada. And once I landed in Guangzhou, I mean it was surprising kind of because there were like more than 100 people waiting for me outside of the exit, and that made me feel like I was a star, you know. It's really different. I think this is what the Olympics has done. It's just so special. And then I got to meet our President, and actually said something to our President because, yeah, I didn't know. The others didn't say anything. But when it came to my turn, I was like, "President, you're so handsome." (Laughs). I did say that. I mean I really felt that. And I think it's a compliment. So it's nothing bad. And yeah, I thought it was funny. I mean I didn't think about it at the moment, but I did say it. And then I was back home. I was back in Guangzhou, and then I went out with my friends for karaoke one night and I think I sang too much. I hurt my throat. And I couldn't talk for a couple of days, and then I actually ended up catching a cold. So I just stayed at home for like more than one week and didn't practice much. But I still enjoyed the time, you know, when I was at home. And I did practice a little last week because, you know, this week coming up is the Evian, it's one of our majors, actually the last major of this year. And actually, in the first half of the year I didn't do very well. So I know that especially after the Olympics, I think I picked up my confidence again. So I think it's a great chance that maybe I can perform well here. So I did practice a little. Even though the greens back home were like seven and a half, the greens speed. So when I got here yesterday, I was on the course and I was like, oh, my God, I'm hitting them way by. It was like way long or way short. I'm trying to get used to the greens speed. But I'm really looking forward to come back.

THE MODERATOR: You mentioned your season so far. No wins, but some Top 10s, you're kind of there in contention. Give us a little bit of a summary of what your season was so far up until the Olympics and then how you feel now.

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think I believe that this year on the LPGA my best finish was actually fifth. I was never very close to -- I didn't win any tournaments, and I wasn't even close to getting in the winning circle. I think my ball striking wasn't as accurate as it used to be, so I didn't have that many birdie chances, and my putting is always like not consistent. Sometimes it's good; sometimes it's not. But yeah, this year, like first half of the year I did lose some confidence. But you know, before the Olympics we did have two weeks off. So in those two weeks I worked really hard, and my caddy said, everybody said it's like, oh, I thought you don't practice. I've never seen you practicing that much. That's what they said. Just maybe three, four hours a day, but to me that's a lot. And actually, all the hard work has paid off. I finished very well in Rio. I think maybe from now on I just need to practice more. That's one of the keys. Yeah, of course, it helped in Rio. And it really helps my confidence, too.

THE MODERATOR: All right. We'll open it for questions.

Q. What did you ask the President?
SHANSHAN FENG: Oh, I just said -- because there were so many of us. There was like more than 400 athletes of us. But all the people that won a medal, all the medalists were in the first row. And of course, because I got a bronze medal, so I was kind of towards the side. I wasn't the first one. So the President came in from our side. He just shaked everybody's hands, and it was like, you know, just one second per person. And when it got to my turn, you know, I felt it, I was like, since I've only seen our President on TV, but that was in real person and real life. And he looked so handsome to me at the moment. You know, it's like he looked really confident. You know, and then I was like, "President, you're so handsome."

Q. You really said that?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, I did. I did say it. And I was actually kind of shocked. (Laughs). So he shaked my hand for the first time, and that's it. And then he was shocked, and then he shaked my hand one more time. So yeah, I mean I was on TV actually a little more, a little longer. But I didn't do it on purpose, though.

Q. Well, congratulations, and congratulations on your bronze, Shanshan.

Q. Tell me, after this little exchange with the President, did you look at him again later and think, oh, he's not quite as handsome as I thought or did you think you got it right?
SHANSHAN FENG: No. I mean like on TV, I mean it's different than real life. I mean he's our President. And normally I just watch him on TV, and I never thought that I would actually have a chance to meet him. Maybe he didn't remember me, but to me, looking at him in real person, I mean he looked -- he was maybe the best-looking Chinese man in person to me. Yeah. And now, like when I look at the TV again, I still think he's really good looking.

Q. Is he a golfer?
SHANSHAN FENG: I don't know. I don't know about that. But if he's not, maybe he can pick up from now. I don't know.

Q. We know a good coach.

Q. Do you think that this is going to help the sport of golf in China, what you've done? Does it sort of legitimize it that you've done it in the Olympics on not on the tour maybe?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah. It's quite different, because in China like we separate sports into two different kinds. One kind is Olympic sports. The other is non Olympic sports. So golf, not many people were paying attention to golf. It was because golf wasn't in the Olympics. So this time now it's back in the Olympics. We are shown on the same channels as the other sports. And I mean all the Chinese people were actually watching us, because usually they can only watch us on like Golf Channel and some like prepaid channels. They don't see us that often. But this time, you know, they're seeing us, all the time seeing us playing to see how great the Chinese golfers are. And this time I got a bronze medal. Maybe it make more people think golf is more interesting. Maybe -- I think there will be more people that will actually start to join the sport. But it's going to take a little time. It's not going to be like, you know, after I got a medal, golf is going to become so, so popular in China. But I mean if anybody -- maybe if I got a gold medal, it would be different. But it was just a bronze. But it's just the first time that Chinese golfer is playing in the Olympics. And we already got a bronze medal. So I do think that in the future actually China will actually become one of the strongest countries in the world, and maybe we'll get a gold medal at some time and golf will become really popular.

Q. How long did you wear the medal after you won it and what did you do with it and where is it now?
SHANSHAN FENG: Like I had to put it on like right after the ceremony. And then it was so heavy, though. Like watching on TV, I thought it was just like a piece of metal, but I didn't think it would be that heavy. But it was really heavy. I had to wear it for at least an hour for the press conference and everything, the photos, but it was full of pride to do that. So I didn't really feel that it was that heavy. And actually, there were people asking me like is your neck sore from wearing the medal, but I didn't really feel it. But then I did take the medal back to China after I met the President. So now it's in my home. A lot of friends, they really wanted to see my medal, so I did take it out for a few times. But I think from now on it's going to be staying in my room. I'm not going to take it out. But I actually thought about like is it okay or is it possible to actually make a copy of it? Then I can take the copy one out and then let the real one stay, but I don't know if I'm actually supposed to do it. So I haven't done it.

THE MODERATOR: Did you wear it singing karaoke?

SHANSHAN FENG: I did bring it that day. I was singing and then the others were -- nobody was really listening to me. They were all playing with the medal. And I was just singing and sang too much and hurt my throat.

Q. Your LPGA victory, does that make as much of an impact as the bronze medal or not?
SHANSHAN FENG: Of course not, because back then it was still like a non Olympic sport. So only like the people that play golf that actually knew what I did. But most of the people they didn't know like what it meant.

Q. Give me an example of the kind of funny comments people made about it.
SHANSHAN FENG: Funny comment.

THE MODERATOR: Probably just not knowing.

SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah. It was funny, though. It was like after I won a major, it was like one time I played with somebody, like it was my dad's friend's friend. So we did play like nine holes together. And then afterwards we went to shower, and me and him actually came out first. So we're sitting on the couch and waiting. So he asked me, he was like, did you go to college? I was like, oh, no. I said I turned pro when I was 18. So I actually didn't go to college at that time. And then he became so nervous, and he was like, oh, so what can you do in the future? So it's a golfer. I mean he's not a professional. He's an amateur golfer. But he plays golf, and he didn't even know what LPGA was, didn't even know that I won the major. And he was worrying about my future. So I mean this is how people back in China were looking at golf at the moment. It was like a few years ago. But this time, because it's back in the Olympics, so I do think that more people are seeing us as athletes, and I think there are more people knowing like what we are really doing. So it's helped a lot.

THE MODERATOR: Did you tell him I'm doing just fine, thank you?

SHANSHAN FENG: Oh, yeah. I did.

THE MODERATOR: I want to talk about this championship. Let's turn to this course. Playing here, I looked at your record. In the past four years, you haven't finished worse than T11. Last year you were third. What do you like about the course? How does it suit your game? Just take us through course setup here.

SHANSHAN FENG: I think this golf course is not really about hitting long. It's more about accuracy, and that's what my strength is. My iron game is usually pretty accurate. So that's why I've always done well here. And this year I mean I just played 18 holes today and yesterday. I think they really grew the grass, I mean the rough. So the rough is really, really long by the fairway and by the greens. So I mean this time is going to be like an accuracy challenge again. And I think it's good for me.

Q. Do you see any difference this year in the course, how it's playing from the previous years when you've been here, because we haven't had a lot of rain this year here?
SHANSHAN FENG: I mean the course is in great shape. The greens were a little bit new last year maybe, but this year they're great. I mean everything is so smooth. Yeah, and they really grew the rough. So it's going to be a little tougher. And I mean I always love the design of the golf course and love the views around the course. And every time I come I don't think about the result. I just enjoy.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Any other questions for Shanshan? All right. Well, thank you for coming in. Enjoy the rest of the day.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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