You remember, the young woman who came out of nowhere to win the Wegman’s LPGA Championship by two strokes back in June? The first Chinese woman to win an LPGA event? And, it follows, the first Chinese woman to win a major? It was a big deal.
With little fanfare, she first showed up on our radar when she got into a four-way playoff in the second tournament of the year, the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Angela Stanford won it and we all wondered why Na Yeon Choi didn’t. But Shanshan was right there.
And too at the Kia Classic a month later in Carlsbad, California. We were all wondering if Sandra Gal was going to be able to successfully defend…and then the great Yani Tseng stole the show with a six-shot win. But Shanshan was right there at T3 with Jiyai Shin (and one behind Sun Young Yoo who would quietly win Kraft Nabisco the following week).
She made her big splash at Wegman’s — the one we all noticed — but she also finished T4 at the U.S. Women’s Open a month later. She was camouflaged among two other “unknowns,” but it was really Na Yeon Choi’s show anyway.
And then at the Evian Masters in July in France she finished T4. But Inbee Park was the winner, a nice resurrection for her, while everyone had their eyes on Karrie Webb and Stacy Lewis who finished T2. But once again, Shanshan got overshadowed, this time by Natalie Gulbis having her best finish of the year, also T4. Everybody loves Natalie.
And that was kind of it in terms of possible flashy finishes that most people didn’t notice.
And then this last weekend, here she is again, seemingly out of nowhere, winning the European LPGA’s, Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in, uh, Dubai. She won by five shots in a field that included defending champion, Lexi Thompson, and Michelle Wie.
So now we have to pay attention. And I do.
Are you ready for this? This was her sixth win in 2012:
Three in Japan, one in America, and two on European [Tour].
Her other European LPGA tour victory was the inaugural World Ladies Championship individual and team titles on the Vintage Course at Mission Hills Haikou, China. Only our Japanese friends would have been aware of the three wins there.
And she’s won eight tournaments altogether:
I think eight wins, including this win, and I’ve had five times that I was just coming from behind, and I had three times that actually included this one, and then finally I won. So it’s not my first time.
So I had experience about that, so of course I was still nervous, but I did it.
Seven wins, two as the frontrunner and still she was nervous. Gives the rest of us some hope.
She’s also best friends with Yani Tseng, which is interesting in a geopolitical sense; Tseng is from Taiwan, still a festering piece of unfinished business for China.
She helped explain why the Asian ladies prefer to play there rather than travel:
A lot of Asian girls, I think first thing is the food. We can eat rice and noodles in the morning, which we can’t find anywhere else like except for Asia. Of course, English is one of the problems, too. For me, I like all the food, I like Italian, I like American, I like Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian. I like everything.
So you know, I can always find some food that I like. And I think the important thing is that I can sleep well. The best thing for me is to sleep eight hours a night, and whatever time I need to wake up, I can fall asleep whenever I want and I can sleep on airplanes, and I think that helps a lot.
So now we can’t say that we’ve never heard of her before. And neither will we be very surprised when she wins another big tournament.
She’s already proven that she can win…and win the big ones too.