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Feng's 66 leads U.S. Open

Shanshan Feng, who leads the U.S. Women's Open Championship, putts on the seventh hole during the first round at Trump National Golf Club. ©USGA/Chris Keane Shanshan Feng, who leads the U.S. Women's Open Championship, putts on the seventh hole during the first round at Trump National Golf Club.
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BEDMINSTER _ Shanshan Feng's black and white cow print shorts, pants and outfits are representative of her personality and set her apart from the other golfers on the LPGA Tour.

Feng, however, doesn't need to draw attention to herself with her unique choice of clothing. Her finely tuned golf skills make people take notice.

Many eyes were on her during the first round of the U.S. Women's Open Championship, which commenced on Thursday, July 13 at Trump National Golf Club. Despite playing in a tournament in China last week and returning to the U.S. on Monday, Feng got off to a fast start, carding three birdies over her first four holes on the way to shooting a 66.

Amy Yang was 5-under, right behind Feng. So Yeon Ru, Lydia Ko, Carlota Ciganda and Gaby Lopez fired 68s and were tied for third. Eight players, including Americans Megan Khang, Cristie Kerr, Rachel Heck and Nelly Korda, shared seventh place.

"I started the round very great," Feng said. "I mean I had three birdies in the first four holes and, after that, I felt so comfortable about everything. My ballstriking has been pretty good but I had kind of been struggling about my putting so I was happy that I made a little adjustment on my putting with my coach, Gary Gilchrist, on Tuesday. I think that's really been helping because I was rolling the ball very nicely on the greens and I made a lot of birdies."

Overall, Feng, who began on the 10th tee, had six birdies. Most notably, she had no bogeys and a problem-free round. It pleased Feng to be paired with Korea's Inbee Park and New Zealand's Lydia Ko. All three were medal winners at the Olympics in Rio last summer.

"I was very, very happy and excited about today and tomorrow," Feng said. "It's the first time after Rio. I was really looking forward to it. Inbee and Lydia are great players and very nice on the course."

Feng got her first birdie on her second hole, No. 11, sinking a 20-foot putt. On the 12th hole, she dropped a six-foot putt. She carded birdies on the 17th and 18th holes, too, putting herself within three feet and eight feet of the flag with on-target iron shots.

Her stellar round came just two weeks after she missed the cut at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship after posting scores of 74 and 77. Gilchrist believes Feng benefits from her ability to wipe out subpar showings.

"I'm a person who likes to be happy all the time," said Feng, owner of seven career wins, one of them a major. "Golf is just a part of our lives. It's not everything. I struggled that time... I would say we're human beings so I'm not asking myself to play perfectly every week. I think I'll allow myself to make mistakes."

Her cow print clothing, which enables people to recognize her, has become what she calls her "signature."

"I like wearing the cow pants because I stand out on the course and people can spot me from like really far away," Feng noted. "People support me with the cow pants so maybe that makes me feel more excited then I play better."

Feng took a low-key approach to the Open and was rewarded with her first round under 70. Upon returning from Weihai, China, Feng rested and played nine-hole practice rounds.

Yang displayed a steady game as well, ending with seven birdies and two bogeys.

"I think that maybe it is most important to be patient out there," Yang said. "I know it was going to be tough and things may not go the way you think."

They didn't go well on the fifth hole when she three-putted for a bogey. On the ninth hole, she found herself underneath a tree and had to punch out. After three more shots, she penciled in her second bogey.

One of the highlights of Yang's round was a 30-foot putt on No. 14, a par 3.

Ko relished playing with Feng, whose high-level game motivated her.

"Shanshan is one of the most consistent players on tour," Ko said. "Her swing, her putting. Everything. There's not a lot that can go wrong with it. When you are that type of player, always giving yourself as many opportunities as you can. When I was playing with her, every birdie opportunity, she pretty much made 99 percent of them.

"That is why she was able to play so well. It's great to be able to play alongside her so that I can feed off some of her holes."

Last modified onSaturday, 15 July 2017 11:10
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