Feng hopes China's golfers can rise

Chinese golfer Feng Shanshan, compatriot Janet Lin Xiyu and Singapore’s Amanda Tan, visiting the home of brothers Lim Jun Wei and Lim Jun Hong. The brothers' three-room flat was refurbished as part of the HSBC Corporate Responsibility Challenge.

She may be her country's top female golfer, but Feng Shanshan is under no illusions about China's place in women's golf.

The 25-year-old rose to prominence when she became the first Chinese to win a Major by capturing the LPGA Championship in 2012.

Yet she believes her compatriots will not catch up with powerhouses South Korea until China has a genuine star to whip up interest at home.

Among the world's current top 20 women's golfers, eight are from South Korea, including No.1 Park In Bee, No.5 Ryu So Yeon and No.8 Choi Na Yeon.

Park, at 25, already has four Majors to her name.

"Korea had someone like (Hall of Famer) Pak Se Ri to inspire future generations, but we don't have someone like that in China. She encouraged so many Koreans to pick up golf," said the world No. 6.

In 1998, Pak won the LPGA Championship and the US Women's Open in her rookie season, blazing a trail for South Koreans women on the course.

Feng is the only Chinese female golfer in the top 100. Next on the list is world No. 188 Janet Lin Xiyu.

She added: "But now that golf is on the programme for the 2016 Olympics, hopefully someone will win a medal, and the Olympics can do the same for golf that it did for tennis."

Feng believes that it was Li Ting and Sun Tiantian's historic women's doubles gold medal at the 2004 Olympics that led to the sport's rise in China.

She said: "After that, people began to think 'Oh, Chinese people can play tennis as well'.

"It became a big sport in China, it was shown more on TV, many people started playing, then we started seeing people like Li Na win the French Open."

Feng believes the current state of affairs means it will take "a long time, maybe 20 to 30 years" before China finally catches up with South Korea in the women's golfing arena.

To demonstrate how the sport lacks fanfare back home, the Guangzhou native says that, despite her achievements, she is not stopped by fans when she walks down a street back home.

"I don't get mobbed or anything," said Feng, who was speaking on the sidelines of the HSBC Corporate Responsibility Challenge

"I can walk down a street and no one will recognise me.

"We seldom show golf tournaments on TV, so people don't know how we're doing.

"They know what a Major means for tennis but not for golf."

Yesterday, Feng spoke to 24 underprivileged children at Kaki Bukit Community Centre pavilion.

She shared her struggles growing up as a sickly child, how she picked up golf in a bid to stay healthy and how she balanced golf and studies while growing up in Guangzhou.

She also gave the children some tips on putting, skills which will be on display when she competes at the HSBC Women's Champions tournament from Thursday until Sunday at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.

While Feng said she has no immediate hopes of being the Chinese equivalent of Pak, she admitted: "What the kids look at is your results. When you win more tournaments you inspire them.

"Right now, they're showing more golf events on television now. I just need to win more. I'm pretty sure the situation will change.

"And of course, one day, China will catch up with Korea."

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