Probably the best example of a validation win dates all the way back to the mid-90s. Lee Janzen won the 1993 U.S. Open at Baltusrol in Springfield, New Jersey. He shot 8-under. Five years later, in 1998, he won the U.S. Open again, this time at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He shot Even par.
As he was hugging his second trophy he was overcome with emotion. He was crying. When he was asked why, he said in so many words, “This time I knew what I was doing.” The first victory was one of those things where a young player who had his first win the year before in Tucson and earlier in the year at Phoenix, had everything go right for him at Baltusrol. It happens. But this one, this one was the validation of his talent as a player, almost entirely it seemed, for himself. That’s where the tears came from.
Shanshan Feng didn’t have tears, she seemed mostly to have joy and pride. Her first LPGA win was at last year’s Wegman’s LPGA Championship in June. So it took her a year and a couple of months to notch her validating win. But oh, what a validation.
From Guangzhou, China (believe it or not, Eye On The Tour has a following in Guangzhou), Shanshan won the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing. They played it on the Nicklaus Course at the Pine Valley Golf Club; so a nice, modern, substantive golf course.
Going into the final round, she and Stacy Lewis had separated themselves from the rest of the field. And at the end of the day it stayed that way. But it was quite an honor roll just behind them by four to eleven strokes : Inbee Park, Karrie Webb, Na Yeon Choi and Yani Tseng.
Stacy Lewis started hot by making four birdies in the first six holes and Feng went from leading by one to down by two. But she took it in stride:
Like I usually play better on the back side. So I knew it was like an 18 hole challenge, and only the first six wouldn’t affect the whole result.
And finally she had her moment on the par-5 18th. Trailing by one, she went for the green in two and Stacy did not. Feng knocked her second shot on, it hit the pin and stopped 3 feet away for an easy eagle. Well, easy perhaps in practice rounds:
I mean last year when I won the major I had a three foot putt to win, too. But I ended up winning by two there. I think this one because when I was over in the States last year, I wasn’t in the final group, so not many people were watching.
So this time I’m in the last group, playing with Stacy. I mean we were the only two that were competing. And then all the crowds were going for me, so I actually, you know, I started to aim, line up, and then the longer I stood there, I started to feel like a little shaky, I was like nervous, just wanted to get it done.
And get it done she did:
Well, I would say I’m as happy as when I won the major last year. This is our first time to have an LPGA event in Beijing, and Reignwood is my new sponsor, so I really wanted to do well to make them look good.
And I think I did a great job. I broke my low score for four rounds, and I think I gave all my best.
And so now, her validating ticket punched, it’s on to this week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But she won’t have as much to prove.
Curiously, Lee Janzen’s U.S. Open win was his eighth and last PGA Tour victory.