Shanshan Feng needed only three holes to erase a two-shot deficit in the final round of the CME Group Titleholders Sunday.
Feng struck with three birdies in the first four holes and added a fourth on No. 6 to quickly claim the lead and maintained her spot atop the leaderboard with eight consecutive pars.
Down the stretch though was where Feng was clutch.
With Gerina Piller right on her heels, making birdies on Nos. 13, 15 and 17 to stay within one shot, Feng was well up to the challenge.
After a knocking her approach to 8-feet and a birdie on No. 15, Feng hit her chip to tap in range for birdie on the par-5 17th for a one-shot lead going into the final hole. A par was all Feng needed as she closed out the 2013 LPGA season and the final round at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., at 15-under-par 273 with a 6-under 66 and her second win of the year.
Before the season began, Feng had made it her goal to win two times on the LPGA in 2013 and for most of the year went winless, leaving her to wonder if she would attain what she had set out to do. However, with two wins in final four events, Feng was able to reach her goal in a big way.
“I actually didn’t think I was going to achieve my goal, but I made it at the last minute at the last tournament in Florida, so I’m really, really happy,” said Feng, who also won the Reignwood LPGA Classic in her homeland China just a few weeks back.
Heading into the event, Feng made some key adjustments to her putting with her coach Gary Gilchrist that wound up paying huge dividends. Feng had a tendency to setup too close to the ball with the toe up, causing an unsolid strike. It was the same problem she was having before Reignwood too, but Gilchrist was able to quickly help his student on both occasions.
“He (Gary) fixed my putting like in 10 minutes,” said Feng, 24, who has been working with Gilchrist since she was a junior at 17 years old . “Then I started to make putts. That was why I won in China. Also this week, before this week, my putting was, you know, not good again because I over‑changed it and Gary was here, he helps me on Tuesday and Wednesday also like 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and then he fixed it again, and then my putting was better.”
Feng’s win at the CME Group Titleholders was the 10th of her career and is likely to move her back into the top five in the world rankings to No. 4. For three consecutive years now (2011-2013), Feng has notched at least two wins in a season with wins on the LPGA, Ladies European Tour and the LPGA of Japan.
She wasn’t the only of Gilchrist’s students making a run at the win though. Sandra Gal held both the first and second round leads and was tied for fourth with Feng going into the final round at 9 under par. In the final round Sunday, Gal played a stellar final round with a 3-under 69 to take fourth at 12-under 276.
The Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, located near Orlando, FL in Howey in the Hills, is the world’s premier junior golf academy. In addition to the junior golf program, GGGA also features summer golf camps, winter golf camps and programs, training and golf lessons for amateurs, professionals and adults.
The Academy is committed to excellence in every facet of golf, fitness, personal development and academics, evident through exclusive relationships with Montverde Academy, an acclaimed private college preparatory school, and the American Junior Golf Association.
Gary Gilchrist, founder of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, has been recognized as a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher 2013-2014 and as a Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher in America 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. Gilchrist teaches many of the games top juniors and pros at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, of which include: Morgan Hoffmann, Shanshan Feng, Sandra Gal and many more.