Trailblazer Feng is China’s first world number one golfer

Feng Shanshan, who started the week third in the world, is projected to rise to top spot at the expense of South Korean rookie Park Sung-Hyun, the LPGA said. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Trailblazer Feng is China’s first world number one golfer

SHANGHAI: Feng Shanshan is to be China’s first golfer ranked world number one after she claimed back-to-back wins with a thrilling victory at the Blue Bay LPGA on Saturday.
No Chinese golfer, male or female, has ever topped the rankings before and her slice of history underlines the country’s growing heft in a sport that was banned under Mao Zedong.
Feng, who started the week third in the world, is projected to rise to top spot at the expense of South Korean rookie Park Sung-Hyun, the LPGA said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Feng’s ascent to the summit comes thanks to a nervy one-shot victory over Moriya Jutanugarn after the Thai’s birdie try on the 72nd hole lipped out, to the delight of the home crowd on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
Feng’s fellow Chinese players showered the trailblazer in water on the 18th green at Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Club.
She told LPGA.com: “I’m really, really excited and very proud of myself and I think it’s special because I won this tournament to become world number one.
“I finished first in China, so I actually claimed the world number one in front of all the people at home,” said Feng, who is from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and turned professional in 2007.
Feng, who also captured last week’s TOTO Japan Classic title, added: “Hopefully there will be more Chinese getting on the tours and more world number ones coming up from China.
“I just want 2017 to keep going. A never-ending 2017, that would be great.”
The deposed number one Park was tied third and relinquishes the top spot after just one week.
For Feng, the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, it is the culmination of more than a decade of toil on tour.
It is also a third victory of the season for her and ninth career LPGA win, one of those a major.
As well as being China’s first number one, she was also the country’s first winner on the LPGA Tour (2012 Wegman’s LPGA Championship).
Her rise to the top was widely celebrated in Chinese media, but the Beijing government has an ambivalent attitude toward golf, which is traditionally viewed in China as bourgeois.
On the one hand Chinese authorities have shut dozens of golf courses — many of them illegal — and curbed new construction, while at the same time holding men’s and women’s tournaments like the one that Feng won.
The LPGA Tour heads back to the US next week for the CME Group Tour Championship in Florida, the final event of the 2017 season.


Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

Updated 20 July 2018
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Why Juventus could prove to be Cristiano Ronaldo's toughest, most rewarding challenge yet

  • Portuguese superstar has moved to Italian giants in deal worth nearly $120 million
  • Ronaldo scored 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid

LONDON: Love him or loathe him, you have to admire Cristiano Ronaldo’s character.
At a time of life when lesser mortals are lured by big paychecks to the likes of Qatar or China, the mercurial Madeiran has opted for what will be his biggest challenge yet at Juventus.
His career over the last decade has been played out under the cloud of the never-ending debate — “Ronaldo or Messi; who is better?”
Thankfully, that circus was quietened somewhat at the recent World Cup. Some flashes of pure brilliance aside, neither player made a big enough impact to lead their respective teams to glory and Messi’s wait for an international trophy goes on.
And, while both players are undeniably in a league of their own, the fact Ronaldo does have a European Championship title under his belt will always tip the argument toward the Portuguese — especially for those who measure greatness in statistics and trophies.
In fairness, Ronaldo’s statistics are mind-boggling. His stint at Manchester United, where he cut his teeth and started to show his potential as a great of the game, was instrumental in the club winning three Premier League titles and their third European crown. His staggering 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid saw him become the Spanish giant’s record goalscorer on his way to winning everything under the sun.
But the Premier League and La Liga are leagues in which attacking footballers flourish. With the dawning of wall-to-wall TV coverage, they have both been transformed to entertain the billions of people who tune in every week — and in this day and age, goalscoring superstars win you fans, not defenses.
The art of defending has all-but disappeared and the culture of building a spine through a team has slowly but surely been eroded away. Nobody wants to watch an engrossing, absorbing, end-to-end goalless draw anymore — it is all about 6-5 thrillers.
But not so in Italy.
Serie A, for all its scandals and fall from grace since its heady days of the 1990s, is still an extremely difficult league to win. It is a league in which fans and managers place great emphasis on defending, on building teams from back-to-front (not the other way around) and on the mentality of “you cannot lose if you don’t concede.”
Granted, Juventus have walked Serie A for the past seven seasons; it is to be expected from one of the richest clubs in the world. But rarely have they won it at a canter. Never once have they scored anywhere near 100 goals in a season to win it — unlike Manchester City in last season’s Premier League, or Barcelona and Real Madrid almost every season in the same period.
And not once has Serie A’s top-goalscorer reached the dizzying heights Ronaldo (and Messi) hit in La Liga season after season, nor has it always been a Juventus player claiming the golden boot.
This all points to a monumental challenge for Ronaldo. On paper, he should not find it as easy to score goals in Serie A and with the marked improvement of Napoli, Roma and Lazio recently, nor will it be an easy ride for Juventus to claim an eighth scudetto in a row this year.
So, while Messi prefers to stay in one country and within his comfort zone of the defense-shy Spanish league, if a 30-something Ronaldo succeeds in Italy — or, better yet, guides Juventus to the European glory the fans crave so much — it would be his most remarkable achievement yet.
And it would put the tiresome debate over who is the greatest ever to bed, once and for all.
No contest.