BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (Reuters) - Shanshan Feng has upped her game since the Rio Olympics, with her familiar ‘cow spots’ outfit drawing fans to her like a beacon with the support helping her more aggressive approach.
The fun-loving Chinese has long been a model of consistency on the LPGA Tour with her simple swing and straight ball flight, but since claiming Olympic bronze in Rio she has worked to improve her putting and gone on the attack to win more events.
“I’ve been a very consistent player throughout my whole career and I’ve made many, many top-10s but, compared to my top-10 numbers, before the Olympics last year I’d only won four times on the LPGA,” said Feng. “I wanted to win more.”
The 27-year-old, the early first-round leader at the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday after an opening six-under 66, decided to play more aggressively and it is paying off.
“It’s a good change because so far, from the Olympics to now, I’ve already got three more wins in the hand and I‘m feeling great about my game and when I have a chance to win any week I won’t give up,” she said.
Feng said a small putting adjustment she made with coach Gary Gilchrist before the tournament paid dividends on Thursday.
“I think that’s really been helping because I was rolling the ball very nicely on the greens and made a lot of birdies,” said the Chinese, who made six of them in a bogey-free round.
Rain-softened greens allowed Feng to fire away at the pins and she took advantage of most of her birdie chances.
Feng was full of smiles and comfortable being back in the U.S. after spending last week competing back home in China.
“I would say I love America. I mean I love American food. I love steak, maybe buffalo wings. I‘m more about meat,” said the stout Chinese, winning laughs from reporters.
“I think America is great. You like it? Everybody likes it. If you don’t like the food, how can you survive here?”
Feng was asked if wearing the cow-spot, black and white designed clothing was a good luck charm.
“I would say that because now the cow pants, cow shorts or the cow outfit has become (part of) my signature, so when I‘m wearing the cow pants people recognise me more,” she said.
“I like wearing the cow pants because I stand out on the course and people can spot me from like really far away and maybe because of more people supporting me with the cow pants maybe that makes me feel more excited then maybe play better.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Ken Ferris