Shanshan Feng, 2012 LPGA Championship Winner
With an LPGA Championship Sunday leader board full of popular names like Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis and Karrie Webb, it was a relatively unknown Chinese player—Shanshan Feng—who carded the best round of the entire golf tournament en route to winning her first major championship.
Feng fired an impressive, bogey-free, five-under-par 67 to win by two shots over four players—Mika Miyazato, Pettersen, Lewis and Eun-Hee Ji.
Three other players—Gerina Piller, Ai Miyazato and Webb—finished three shots back at three-under-par.
It was a week filled with great golf, typically large and enthusiastic crowds, wild weather and scores more reminiscent of a major championship than in years past here at Locust Hill.
Feng's historic victory was one of the five biggest takeaways from the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship. Let's take a closer look.
David Kindervater is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences at the Media Center at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Shanshan Feng, a 22-year-old Guangzhou, China native, became the seventh player to record her first LPGA Tour victory at the LPGA Championship and the first-ever player from mainland China to win an LPGA Tour event.
Really? There are 1.3 billion people in China and Shanshan Feng is the first to win a golf tournament on American soil. Try to wrap your head around that one. Feng made such an attempt in her post-round victory presser:
"It is amazing," she said. "I think I'm just lucky. There are good players from China, young players, right now. I became the first one, but I'm sure there will be a second, third—more people winning in the States and winning majors."
Feng's career was headed in the right direction before this victory here at Locust Hill, though. She had a win on the Ladies European Tour in March and a victory on the Japanese LPGA Tour just three weeks ago. She also recorded three other top five finishes in 2012.
It's been a good year to be Shanshan Feng.
You have to give her credit. Feng played better than everyone else when it mattered the most, and she dominated a difficult golf course by hitting 11-of-14 fairways and 16-of-18 greens in regulation on Sunday for the win.
Now she has a major championship trophy to show for her efforts.
Who is Gerina Piller, and why is her name on the leader board at a major championship?
The little known second-year LPGA Tour player very quietly vaulted herself into contention during the final round of the LPGA Championship with seven birdies on her Sunday scorecard.
Piller, the former Golf Channel Big Break contestant and Symetra Tour grad, was tied for the lead at five-under-par until she imploded on No. 17 with a double-bogey on the par-five hole to fall two shots behind the leaders. She bounced back with a par at the difficult 18th, though, and found herself, at the time, as the leader in the clubhouse along with Ai Miyazato at three-under-par.
Piller talked about her remarkable day in her post-round presser:
"Today I just wanted to have fun … There was a time when I looked back at the front nine, and I couldn't believe I had already played nine holes. So, I just wanted to stay focused, run my programs and just get up there and just play like I was playing back home."
It would be a tremendous understatement to say Piller's performance was a surprise. She had missed the cut in her three previous major championship appearances, and her best LPGA Tour finish this year was T-23 at last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Clearly, she used what momentum she had mustered from that event and played the best golf of her still blossoming career, nearly winning not only her first tournament, but a major championship.
It was an experience that should serve her very well in the future.
Yani Tseng is human after all.
The best female golfer in the world and the defending title holder of the LPGA Championship wasn't exactly playing her best golf entering this tournament.
After reeling off three victories earlier in the year, Tseng did the unthinkable—according to her high standards—by finishing outside the top 10 in her previous tournament, the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Then she arrived at Locust Hill and it got worse.
Opening rounds of 76 and 75 allowed her to barely make the cut at seven-over-par, then she closed with a 74 on Saturday and a 76 on Sunday to finish T-59.
Yani Tseng tied for 59th place? It boggles the mind.
Tseng wasn't hitting fairways (only 22-of-56), she wasn't hitting greens (only 41-of-72) and she had 120 putts over four rounds. Uggh.
Needless to say, this is unfamiliar territory for the world's No. 1 player, and it will be interesting to see how she bounces back after this kind of disappointment.
My guess is she won't have much of a problem, but only time will tell if this is just a temporary slump for her or something that gets the rest of the women's tour thinking they can actually compete with Tseng on a regular basis.
The ongoing analysis of her troubled golf swing, and the reasons why she is struggling to live up to her tremendous potential—that's how she's like Tiger Woods.
Tiger seems to be breaking out of his multi-year slump with two victories in 2012 so far. But Wie's struggles continued at the LPGA Championship this week.
Wie missed the cut for the fifth time in eight starts in 2012 with rounds of 74 and 82. She not only missed the cut, she didn't even come close to playing on the weekend.
I won't go so far as to say it's time to hit the panic button, but it's pretty darn close.
Wie's best finish in 2012 was T-33 at the Sybase Match Play Championship.
Whether it's the transition from college life at Stanford to the full-time work load on the LPGA Tour, Wie has to be reeling from the recent disappointments. She's a lot better than these finishes are indicating. Like Tiger, though, I don't think it will last long. I expect her to break out of her funk much sooner than later. She's simply got too much talent not to.
After last year's LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club, Suzann Pettersen made a comment that the golf course didn't really play like a major championship venue should.
Translation: it's too easy.
She was the only one who said something, but she certainly couldn't have been the only one who was thinking it.
Yani Tseng cruised to a 10-shot victory with a 19-under-par total in 2011. The year before, Cristie Kerr had the same score.
The powers-that-be at Locust Hill must have taken it to heart because this year's version, while not playing any longer in terms of yardage, was much more difficult for the field to negotiate.
The three-and-a-half inch rough wreaked havoc with anyone who wandered off the fairways, and the difficult pin placements kept scores in check. Most of the players said the golf course was playing as difficult as ever.
When all was said and done, only 13 women had finished under par. Locust Hill had its revenge.