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December 5, 2016

Shanshan Feng

Muni He

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

BETHAN CUTLER: A very warm welcome to Shanshan Feng, our defending champion and Olympic bronze medalist, as well as Muni He, a possible future champion here at the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters.

Shanshan, you've won this event three times in the last four years, obviously your goal a couple of years ago was top five, you won. Goal last year was Top-10, you won.

SHANSHAN FENG: Was it Top-10? Did I say Top-10?

BETHAN CUTLER: Obvious question: What is your goal this year.

SHANSHAN FENG: You know the answer. Top five. I mean, it's like I said earlier, I never set a goal that will really give myself a lot of pressure. I mean, you know, going for top five, I feel quite comfortable doing it, so I think that's maybe my goal right now.

BETHAN CUTLER: Muni, it's your first time here at the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters, can you tell us your impressions about the tournament and a little bit about yourself, as well?

MUNI HE: Yeah, so it's my first time here in Dubai. Dubai is a place I've always wanted to visit, so I'm very lucky and grateful that I'm able to have this opportunity to be able to compete here this week.

It's amazing, arriving in Dubai, being able to see all the buildings, and the course is in such good condition, so I'm very excited to be able to play this week.

I was born in China but I currently live in the States, and currently I'm still an amateur but hopefully in the future I'll be able to play on Tour as a professional.

BETHAN CUTLER: Okay. Good luck. And what is in this book, Shanshan?

SHANSHAN FENG: Some, I don't know --

BETHAN CUTLER: You didn't bring your Bronze Medal with you this time?

SHANSHAN FENG: I brought the case.

BETHAN CUTLER: Can you tell us the story, all about your Olympic experience and how your life has changed, perhaps?

SHANSHAN FENG: Sure. It was special. I would say, I've been a professional for nine years now and I've played in so many big or small events but the Olympics was maybe the most special, I would say. I was -- normally we have our sponsors and we wear, you know, you see like logos everywhere, but this time in Rio, we were actually wearing our uniforms for the country, so all you see is just flags.

I was really proud, when we were on the first tee, they didn't do it like normal. They didn't call everybody's name and you tee off. They want us to line up like in a line and they introduced us one by one, saying, this is oh, from China, Shanshan Feng, and like do it like the real Olympic way.

So I was really proud of myself when they said, oh, Shanshan Feng from China, and I was pointing to the Chinese flag. I was like, "I'm from China." It was special.

I did feel a lot of pressure before going there. I felt like I was a rookie because it was new. I've never been to an Olympic Games before, but before I went there, actually my condition wasn't very good. It was the first half of the year, I didn't do very well, so going into Rio, I didn't set any goals. Like not even top five. I didn't think about anything. I was like, you know, just go for it, enjoy the time there, and I knew that all the Chinese people back home would be watching. Doesn't matter if they play golf or not.

So I made sure that I was smiling all the time. Make sure that they see that I am very nice on the course. I think that really helped, because I didn't set any goals and I was enjoying it, and I actually brought out my A Game again.

I finished third, which I got the Bronze Medal, and that was actually the best finish before, like so far, during this year towards that time. I was really happy. Very surprising that I actually brought out my A Game on the right timing. That was very exciting.

Q. How does winning the bronze, which is actually a third place in a tournament, compare to winning a major, winning this tournament three times? How does it compare to that?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I would never really compare, you know, any victories -- like a victory to another victory. I think victories are always good.

Like the media, they ask me like if you have a choice, like if you want to win a major more or if you want to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics more, I was like, of course the Gold Medal, because we have 20 chances in four years to win a major. But we only have one chance every four years to win a Gold Medal. So if I have to choose, of course I will go for the Gold Medal.

I told people, this is not a Bronze Medal. This is a Rose Gold Medal. I think all three of us, we all captured Gold Medals. I got the Rose Gold Medal, Lydia got the White Gold Medal and Inbee got the real Gold Medal.

I think all three of us, we were winners because it was the first time golf was back in the Olympics after over a hundred years, and we were really proud that we could -- that we were born in the right time and that we could represent our country and compete in the first Olympics after that long time.

I think any medallists were winners. So I was really proud about the Rose Gold Medal -- well, you call it a Bronze Medal, but I was really proud of myself.

Q. I heard the last time you won here, you spent your money on handbags.
SHANSHAN FENG: That's funny.

Q. Why is this?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, actually, it was like after I won, they asked me, what will you do with your prize money. Of course, I did put the money in a bank, but always, I would want to buy myself something, like a little gift.

I was like, oh, maybe I'll go get a handbag, but I didn't spend all the money on a handbag, so don't worry. But recently, I've been falling in love with hand bags. I've been buying more hand bags than before, so I think I need to work even harder, and maybe that's one of the reasons why that I have been playing very well, because I need to make more money to get handbags, yeah.

Q. Is the fact Suzann Pettersen is here this week, is that a big threat to your dominance in this event?
SHANSHAN FENG: Of course not. I know Suzann very well. We've played on the LPGA together and actually recently we've played together quite a few times. I knew she was going to come and I was very excited. I want to see the greatest players supporting this event, and obviously Suzann is a great pioneer of the ladies golf. I'm not sure if she's played before -- maybe not.

I'm really excited. I'm really looking forward to play with her, and I know Charley just won the CME Championship. So I know that a lot of players are actually in very good shape and really excited that I can compete with them.

Q. Is it good to have that challenge for such a senior player, who is obviously quite good, as well? Is it good to have an extra challenge this week?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I would say, we'll try to just enjoy the process, enjoy the tournament, and of course, if you have stronger players in the field that will actually make you feel, how do you say, like make me maybe feel like I want to play better, yeah.

Q. Can you tell us if Shanshan has been kind of your role model growing up, you have seen her?
MUNI HE: Oh, 100 per cent.

SHANSHAN FENG: What about if she says no? (Laughter).

MUNI HE: 100 per cent. Growing up, I've always heard the name, Shanshan. I've always looked up to her.

But it really wasn't until the last two years that I've gotten to know her and to know that she's truly a role model, not only on the course but off the course. So not only when it comes to golf, but the way that she looks at life and everything, it's amazing. I hope I'll be able to be like half as good as her one day.

SHANSHAN FENG: Oh, no, you'll be 200 per cent better.

MUNI HE: I'm very grateful that I'm able to have her almost as like a friend, a guidance and someone to look up to and to learn from.

Q. And can you tell us something about your future plans? When are you planning to turn professional, and things like that.
MUNI HE: That's my ultimate goal in the future, but as of right now, I don't really know exactly when, because I will be attending USC in the spring, and I think, you know, although turning pro, it is like in my mind, I really don't know when I'll feel like I'm prepared enough to be able to go to Q-School and then maybe like turn professional. But hopefully within the next couple of years.

Q. Which university?
MUNI HE: University of Southern California, USC.

Q. You've got a very young lady next to you and there's a young Indian girl who has done particularly well and has just got her partial LPGA card. What is it like having these youngsters chasing you?
SHANSHAN FENG: Oh, she got the LPGA card, also?

Q. Partial.
SHANSHAN FENG: Okay. Great. Playing with all these young players, of course, will make me feel old. But right now, I'm trying to get used to it because like even on the LPGA now, I mean, you look at Lydia, Brooke and Ariya, they are all below 21, and maybe below 20, I'm not sure.

They are so, so young, and they are actually able to hit the ball so far away. So right now, like I think maybe five years ago, I was actually kind of a long player on the Tour, but now, not anymore. It's like all the girls are like 20, 30 yards past me and I'm always the first one to hit, you know, like every hole and just makes me feel old.

I would say this first half of the year, I was kind of struggling was because I was trying to compete with all the girls. I'm like, I have to keep up the distance with them and I have to try to compete with them, because they are so young and I'm actually more experienced and I'm like, I gave myself too much pressure and I forgot how to be Shanshan.

I didn't play very well but then I think the Olympics was a very good breakthrough point; that actually picked up my confidence again, and learned that I'm still Shanshan. I'm still a good player. I'm still able to win on the Tour.

Now I'm not trying to, you know, trying to beat the ball as far as the girls do, but I know that I'm actually more accurate. And being the first one to hit on every hole, and actually if I hit the balls really close to the pins, it will actually give other girls a lot of pressure. I just stick on my same plan.

Of course, I see the bright futures of the Chinese golf, like Muni is one of the best junior players right now, or I would say, amateurs. Other than Muni, we have a few more girls that are around, maybe 15 to 18 years old, that are really, really good. So I hope that you can actually see them in the future. I feel really happy that -- I hope some more Chinese players will actually shine on the Tour.

Before I retire, I want to see more Chinese people, and if I can support them, you know, I will support them 100 per cent, like whatever they want. I will just try my best to help them.

Q. You're saying that these girls are out-hitting you 20, 30 yards and they are probably out-Tweeting you 20 or 30 times a day, as well. What do you think of the social media aspects of the game?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yes, I would say the LPGA, I know that on the social media part, I think the LPGA's increasement is like over 100 per cent every year. It's like a lot and a lot. It's improving much faster, even compares to the PGA, we're actually doing a lot better.

I think that's because girls are actually more willing to reach the fans. And actually, a lot of people actually think girls are more friendly, like less distance between us and the fans. I think that's, of course, going to bring us a lot more fans. I think it's also a good chance to show off our personality off the course, because on the course, even me, you look at me on the course, I have a poker face. Like maybe I'll smile sometimes, but I won't laugh on the course and suddenly I'm like, oh -- I don't do that on the course.

But actually off the course, every player has our own personality, and I would say that I do have my own character. I'm actually more like a silly, silly funny girl; I do describe myself like that. It's good to let people know that we're not only stars on the television, but we are also real person and we're actually very fun. We have, you know, let them to know a lot more about us, I think is great.

Q. You missed winning the Order of Merit again by one tournament actually. You didn't play the required number of LET this year. Did you want to play one more tournament again?
SHANSHAN FENG: Last year I knew that I had a very good chance to win the Order of Merit. So I actually pushed myself to play a couple more LET events last year. But this year was different, because this year was the Olympic year. So because of the Olympics, actually I had to skip a lot of tournaments, even on the LPGA.

Like on the LPGA, I think I only played 21 events this year. Compared to the other girls, I actually didn't play quite enough. I would say it would be hard for me to add more on the LET this year, but yeah, if I have chances in the future, I think I'll try to reach the six if I can for sure.

Q. What is the aspect of your game that really suits the Majelis Course, because you've won so many times over here?
SHANSHAN FENG: I would say this golf course, the fairways are not super narrow, and the greens are actually quite flat. So it's going to be a birdie challenge course, and I know what I've been doing well here was my ball-striking is always good.

So I always leave myself so many birdie chances, and if my putting -- so the only thing I need to work on is my putting. So if my putting is working and reading the lines right, then I know I can make a lot of birdies, yeah.

Q. You've got a lot of records here. Are you looking to top any of the records this week?
SHANSHAN FENG: What is my record, anyway? (Laughs).

Q. Most wins for a start, highest win margin. You've got basically all the records.
SHANSHAN FENG: Wow, that's great. I love having the records. But I mean, like that's always not in my mind, because if I try to think about it, I think I'm going to give myself extra pressure, and actually I think I'll lose myself on the course.

So like I said, I just want to enjoy, enjoy here, because every time I love coming back to Dubai, I love the golf course and love how the tournament is set up. And especially this time, I have muni with me, I believe that we are playing together on the first two days of the tournament, so I'm sure that we are going to have a great time.

You know, if I can bring out my A Game, then maybe I have a chance to break the record. But that's not what I'm going to go for.

Q. Is that a big part of your psychology, to sort of deflect all those sort of elements that obviously the media talk about; is that part of your psychology to get that out of your head?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I try to forget it, even though you told me. Like myself, if you didn't tell me, I wouldn't know anything. But even know you tell me, I wouldn't really keep that in mind, because I know that I try hard, if I give it 100 per cent every shot, I try my best; and I do it, I do it. If I don't, it's still okay. At least I tried my hundred per cent.

BETHAN CUTLER: Thank you for joining us.

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