Chinadaily / Feng Shanshan poses during the launch of the SAIC-GM Buick LPGA tournament in Shanghai on Thursday. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Quirky superstar’s ambition shows no bounds after rediscovering her mojo and putting retirement on hold

Feng Shanshan has a reputation for being a quirky personality who never fails to stand out from the crowd – both on and off the fairways.

She wears trademark cow-print outfits on the course. She fields questions from the media with deadpan humor. She even left President Xi Jinping stumped with her “Mr. President, you are so handsome” comment when the two met at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing following her bronze-medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Even her profile pic on the LPGA website stands out, with the 28-year-old holding a knitted toy she calls Panda Shan, which resembles a girl wearing a panda-shaped hat.

“That’s me,” she laughs. “My team and I had this idea of creating something this. I thought it would be good if the photo could have some Chinese element because, you know, I represent China.”

Born in Guangzhou, Feng first picked up a golf club when she was 10, learning the ropes from her father who worked for the local sports bureau. At 17, she was offered a scholarship for Gary Gilchrist’s academy in South Carolina with the sole aim of making it onto the LPGA.

By the end of the first year, Feng’s US adventure had nearly depleted her parents’ life savings. However, the faith in their daughter was soon rewarded.

In 2008, she became the first Chinese golfer to play on the tour and she has since earned over $10 million in prize money.

It’s not all been plain sailing, however, with the former world No 1 battling through a form-sapping bout of self-doubt which set in during her Olympic qualification bid.

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