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November 15, 2017

Shanshan Feng

Naples, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back. We are here with our newly crowned world No. 1, Shanshan Feng. Got to be fun to hear that. Shanshan is the first player from China, male or female, to reach world No. 1.

She has three wins this year: The LPGA Volvik Championship, the Toto Japan Classic, and the Blue Bay LPGA; nine other top 10s; second in the race for Player of the Year; third in official money and Race to the CME Globe.

First off, congratulations. Got to be a great feeling to hear that, world No. 1, Shanshan Feng.

SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, because after we finished in Blue Bay they were saying that it was just projected to be world No. 1 but wasn't sure yet. The tournament finish on Saturday and then I had to fly over to the States. I had to wait like little more than a day for it to really come out, I mean, for it to really update.

I was in Dallas transferring and I was like, Oh, maybe it will come out a little earlier. I checked and I was like, Oh, my God, I'm really world No. 1.

So I was really, really excited. I was by myself at the Dallas airport and I went into Friday's and I ordered a steak for myself. I mean, I was trying to celebrate a little bit, you know, with the steak by my own. I took a picture of it and send to my dad and my mom. I was like, I'm here celebrating.

But I'm sure they are having much better food back home, like celebrity. After this week I'm flying right back to China. I can't wait to see them.

THE MODERATOR: What has been the response you've gotten from home, from friends, family, the media, everyone in China about this exciting news?

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I mean, everybody was so happy, because I actually become the world No. 1 of course by winning two weeks in a row. Especially the win last week was in China, so I won in front of all the -- I mean, my parents and all the fans back in China.

So, I mean, they were very happy for me and I was very proud of myself also. You know, I opened my Chinese Twitter and it was like all about me. So I was really happy about it.

Then like I could tell like maybe my success, like really gave them more confidence like about maybe coming to LPGA or trying to go to PGA in the future.

Hopefully. Because now is just the beginning, right? Like I don't know how much longer I'll be world No. 1, but at least I've been world No. 1. Hopefully that can encourage more people to start playing golf. I would say China will become one the strongest countries in the future.

THE MODERATOR: Well, if you have anything to do with it, certainly. Getting to world No. 1 was a feat of a great month for you. It started several weeks ago in Malaysia. You were second there for the fourth straight year. You were first and second before that. You had a great week in Taiwan.

What got into you over the last month to take your game to this next level?

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think -- I don't know, like I don't really know why, but I guess it's because I warm up slowly. Like beginning of the season, with like five weeks totally off without like touching any clubs, and then now when I just come back and I guess I'm not 100% yet.

But then as the season goes by and then I play more tournaments and I think I get better and better. So towards the end of the year, I mean, those tournaments in Asia with no cuts, of course we're really relaxed.

I'm an Asian player, so playing in Asia I think I feel like even more comfortable. And then also I think at the end of the year I reach my 100%, so it's easier for me to bring out my A Game at the end of the year.

THE MODERATOR: You've got the A Game now. We'll take you real quickly here to Naples. How do you feel coming into this week? Are you able to put the excitement behind you, or do you use that to motivate you for a great season-ending event here at CME?

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think I was really excited like once I knew that I become word No. 1. Now it's Wednesday and I don't feel as much right now. Yeah, it's already like long time ago, right?

I think I've been playing well recently. What I can think of is this is the last tournament of the year. I just have four more days to go and I can enjoy my off-season. I can't wait for my off-season to come.

Then I just want to keep up my good condition, good playing, and just enjoy this week.


Q. We know what it's like when other Asian players make No. 1 in the world. It's a big deal. What's it like in China, or do you know yet?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I left China right away so I don't even know. But I guess -- hopefully -- I mean, I actually don't know.

Q. Do you have any sense of what kind of news it's made?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I mean, it was on all the big channels and big newspapers, magazines, but because I haven't been back, I'm pretty sure during the off-season I will know more.

Yeah, because I still have one more tournament to go, so I'm trying not to pay attention to those things yet.

Q. Has your success, do you think it's influenced the boys back home playing golf? What sense do you get of that? I think there are two that made it through and will have their PGA TOUR cards this coming season.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think the boys are doing really well. I think maybe we should put it like the other way. Because the ladies were well ahead, but now actually the boys are catching up. They're doing really well.

Is it Asian-Pacific Amateur Championship? I mean, we got four Chinese in the Top 5, including the winner.

So we've already got three winners, three amateurs that have already played the Masters or are going to the Masters to play.

I mean, we have two guys already qualified for PGA for next year, I mean, this coming up season. They're actually playing already.

Then we have another, Haotong. I mean, his world ranking is like 59 right now, or 58th. Then he finished third at British Open by like a low round of the day.

The guys are doing really, really well. That actually is encouraging the ladies to play even better. That's what I feel like. Because I'm really happy to see the guys are doing better, but I still want to show them that the ladies are still ahead.

That pushed my to play even better. I guess right now, even though I'm world No. 1, like if you look at International Crown standing, China is outside of the top eight. We're ninth right now. What we need to do is like for the rest of our players, I think if I have time, I should spend more time and try to help them a little more.

I believe they're talented. They're good players. They're going to be really good in the future.

Q. Is that a bigger deal in team events than individual rankings? People hold the team events in higher esteem?
SHANSHAN FENG: I mean, I won't say that, because I mean if you look at the Olympics, we're playing individually. Team events are more special, because I'm an Asian player, so I never get in like Solheim Cup. The International Crown is the only team event that I can maybe be a part of it.

So of course we try our best to try to get in the top eight and have chance to get the crown for sure.

Q. Two quick questions: Can you tell us a little bit about your academy in China? A lot of players wait until they retire to start things like that. What inspired you to do it now? How many kids are there? Are they boys and girls?
SHANSHAN FENG: I mean, you know, on my like rookie year I made a plan of like I'll play ten years at LPGA and I retire. This is my tenth year already and I'm still here. (Laughter.)

I'm not going to go away soon. Last year, I mean, I played at the Olympics and I really, really enjoyed it. But I felt a little bit pity because I felt like I was just too nervous and that I could do better.

Yeah, even though I got a bronze medal, of course. I think if I can play the 2020 Olympics, I mean, I really, really want to enjoy the life for an Olympian.

And also, I've got a bronze medal in the pocket, so I should try to go for the gold, right? So at least I'll be here for few more years.

And, yeah, the academy thing, I think this is the right time to start it, because if I wait until I retire and then I start it, I mean, I don't know when I will start it. (Laughter.)

I don't know how many more years I'm going to play. I think right now there are actually many, many juniors that are picking up golf in China, so I really want to give them like a good system, like a learning system that is including technique, like swings and mental, fitness, everything together.

So, yeah, I actually opened my academy and then I got a lot of advices from Gary. Yeah, because Gary, I went to Gary's academy and I really, really liked his system.

I'm still with him, so that shows you how much I like him and his academy. I just wanted to bring like the same system to China. I mean, the kids don't need to go overseas. They still can learn the same thing.

Q. That was my follow up question about Gary. You've been with him for a long time. You're his third No. 1 player this year alone. Just talk about why this relationship works and how he helps you the most.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, when we first met I was still a junior. I went to his golf academy because friends introduced us to each other.

When I first met him he was already like a top coach. He was teaching Suzann at the time and she was world No. 2. He was famous and I was nobody. But he saw my potential so he really helped me. He went to Q-School with me on the same year. Then I qualified on the same year, and after that, I mean, I've been with him for 11 years now.

I think the reason why I really like him is because he -- like the way he teaches is like based on your own body condition, like your body type. Like if I'm not a powerful hitter, then he won't try to change me into a powerful hitter. Like he just change like small things based on your own habits and then your own style.

And then what he says is like you never change the things that are helping you. He only makes like small changes, but really can help and you give you confidence. He's really, really positive. He's like a really happy person.

So that's what -- I think that's how I am too, so I think we get along really, really well. So like on and off the course I think we are very good friends. He's a very good coach and mentor to me.

I think that's why we just keep working together.

Q. Couple of things. What does your dad actually do for the Chinese Golf Association, and what is his title?
SHANSHAN FENG: He's the vice president.

Q. Okay. And the other thing, golf is so young in China. When you first started to play was it looked at as a crazy thing? What did other friend think when you told them you played golf? What was it like?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I would say when I first started playing golf, I mean, just like not many people knew what golf was. Like I would tell them, like I would say that I finished like second in the national junior championship.

They will be like, Oh, that's super, but they don't know actually what golf is. They don't know I only had like three competitors in my group. (Laughter.) Shh. That's a secret.

Yeah, but, I mean, when I started I was always the youngest. Like when I went to amateur tournaments or even like professional tournaments I was the youngest. Not many people were playing golf at the time.

I mean, now it has changed.

Q. Did people think it was silly and you should try something else? Discourage you at all?
SHANSHAN FENG: No. No, not really. I was just telling them like I was so good. (Laughter.)

Q. Golf has had its ups and downs in China. I know the president for a while was very much against it, and now he's very much for it. Curious, how has the evolution of the game changed over there? Have you been aware of any of that?
SHANSHAN FENG: I would say I don't really understand what you're talking about.

Q. The game was not outlawed in China for a while? Couldn't build any new golf courses and it's an elitist sport? There were people actually were thrown in jail, weren't they?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, as you know, I spent 90% of my time overseas. I'm not in China that much. I think as a player I should focus on my own game. I think the better I play, the more on TV that I am, then it's going to help the sport to grow in China.

That's all I think. I don't really know much about those.

Q. Okay. Since golf was still fairly new in China when you were starting, who was your inspiration? Who did you look up to?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, when I first started, I mean, I think I was watching like the LPGA tournaments all the time. Then Karrie Webb was my idol. When I was watching TV it was the time her and Annika were always like chasing who is No. 1.

I really liked the way Karrie was playing because she was so calm, like no matter if she was leading or behind. She acted like she was the No. 1. I really liked her. I thought that was the way like how an athlete should be.

Yeah, so I was looking up at her. Then I actually got to play with her my rookie year, so I was so nervous. Then I said to Webby, I said Karrie, I said you were my idol when I was young.

Webby looked at me and said, You saying I'm old? I was like, No, no, no, no. She was like, No, no, I'm just joking. I'm like, Oh, she's so nice like even on the course like to her competitors, too. I really like Karrie, Webby.

Q. When you were starting out and you had this plan that you were going to play ten years and retire, what was your plan to do next after that? Had you given that any thought?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, yeah, I thought about maybe opening my academy and then maybe designing golf courses and maybe give like speeches, like speeches tour like over the country, something like that.

Yeah, but I think this is my tenth year already. That's why I already started my academy, because I didn't want to wait longer. I think I should start it before I retire, yeah.

Q. Just a quick question about your caddie, Mercer. You've been together I think six years before you won the LPGA championship.

Q. How important has he been? I think I remember a story about somebody saying he kind of inspired you in a recent one run to play more like the younger players, more aggressively. Did he make a comment like that that inspired you or something? No?

Q. Okay, sorry.
SHANSHAN FENG: I said to myself about it. Well, but I think Mercer and I, we've worked together so long, the reason why is because I think on the course he's very professional. He's a very good caddie. I mean, the reason why I say he's professional is he can fit himself into whatever I ask him to do.

Of course he gives good numbers. When I'm on the course we talk about strategies and always on the same page. He knows what he's doing. Then he has a lot of experiences about playing also, because he was a pro before he became a caddie.

So like I remember one time like I was having a mud ball but my ball was actually off the fairway. I asked him, I said, What do I do with it? I said if the mud is on the left, then is the ball going to curve left? He said, No, it goes the opposite; goes right. I was like, Really? Okay, I will trust you.

Then I aimed left of the pin, right, because it was a big piece of mud. I aimed way left and the ball really curved right and got to like four feet from the hole.

Yeah, but if I played the way I thought it would be it would be in the trees. I mean, he's really good. I think our personalities, like we get along very well, too, because we are simple persons. Off the course we don't do anything like crazy.

Like off the course usually he just grab something to eat on the way, and then once he's in the room he doesn't come out. He goes to bed maybe 9:00 every night and wakes up at 5:30. He'll never be late. He'll always be like an hour, hour and a half before, like ahead to the time that I'm telling him to meet me.

I think he's just great. Of course, like last week, even though he was sick so I sent him home, even though he wasn't there I was thinking, I thought about like Mercer was being there with me. I was trying to think in my head, if I can win and become word No. 1, then I can put the green bib on him.

So that was what I was going through in my mind. It really encouraged me. So I think I'm really happy that he's actually getting his green bib tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Everyone be on the first tee to see Mercer get that green bib.

Q. I wanted to double check. When you were in the Dallas airport and you sent your dad a picture, was it a picture of the ranking or the steak?
SHANSHAN FENG: Picture of the steak, because they already knew the ranking came out. Like I checked maybe ten minutes ago. I checked but it doesn't come out, but after like ten minutes and then I checked my Chinese Wii Chat actually, I checked that, and already people congratulating me; like saying this it was updated.

Really? Then I ordered a steak and I took a picture of the steak and send home.

Q. What do you think will have a greater impact in China, your Bronze medal from the Olympics or being No. 1?
SHANSHAN FENG: That's a tough question. I think the bronze medal. Last year they really showed Chinese people that Chinese can be good golfers, too, even though our history in China is not that long. We're competitive in golf.

Then I think now I became world No. 1, so that shows them even more that Chinese can maybe get to the top of all the golfers in the world. So hopefully. I don't know. I don't know which one is more important or has bigger impact, but we'll see.

Q. (No microphone.)
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, of course. I mean, Olympic sports are huge in China. Like I told you guys long time ago, I said we have like end of the year like award ceremony for athletes. We have Olympic sport athletes and nonOlympic sport athletes. So that's a big difference.

Q. Just quick question. Earlier in your career, did you ever get frustrated that you were having success over here and maybe you weren't getting as much attention for it back in China because golf wasn't as big a deal, say, after you won a major championship?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I look at it like both sides. Of course I really want golf become more popular in China. So after I won the major I hope that maybe more people would start playing golf.

At the same time, I'm actually like off the course kind of like a low-key person. I don't really like people like chasing me in the streets, you know? (Laughter.)

So, I mean, if less people recognize me, then maybe I have more freedom. I enjoy that, too. Yeah, so that's how I look at it.

Q. Along those lines, some players have gotten to No. 1, whether a male or female player, and they have been a little uncomfortable with the extra attention. Are you going to embrace that part of it? Because to thrive at No. 1 you kind of have to, don't you?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, yeah, I think that's our responsibility to handle like everything. But the way I look at it is like I don't feel like I'm getting more attention. I was getting attention even before I was world No. 1.

I still think about I'm still the same player. Becoming the world No. 1 is just like accomplishment in my career, one off. That proves that I'm a good player, but that is just going to give me more confidence that I can even be better.

I still think I have room to actually improve. I don't think this is the end, like my maximum. It's not. I still think I can be even better, so I won't stop improving.

Q. If you had a steak at Friday's to celebrate being No. 1 in the world, how will you celebrate if you win this week and get Player of the Year?
SHANSHAN FENG: Maybe a bigger steak. I don't know. (Laughter.)

Well, I mean, I think that's something that hasn't happened yet, so I don't know how to answer your question.

Normally when I celebrate, of course there are two things. One is food, of course. Very good food. I don't know what food yet, but I can tell you of course I'm going to have some good food and share the happiness with my parents.

Second thing is I'm going to buy myself presents. What I normally get are handbags. (Laughter.) So depends on how well I'm doing, and I get myself like different prices handbags.

If I can really win this week -- of course if I win this week I'm going to win the million, right? I'll become Player of the Year, and then maybe I'll get myself a very nice handbag.

Q. How many handbags do you have?
SHANSHAN FENG: I don't know. Not that many. 20. Like 20, and it's like increasing every year. (Laughter.)

THE MODERATOR: Doug stole my last question. If you win the $1 million, what would you buy? A really, really nice handbag?

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think I will buy myself and like everybody in my team very good handbags. Yeah, I think so.

THE MODERATOR: And maybe some of your LPGA friends, too. We like handbags. Little one maybe.

SHANSHAN FENG: A little one? I'll draw you one.

THE MODERATOR: Okay. It's a plan. You heard it here first. She's drawing me a handbag.

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