Xiamen, China: With the Covid-19 pandemic prompting the cancellation of many tournaments and curtailing international travel, the majority of China’s top female golfers are keeping active on the China LPGA Tour.
Among them is rookie pro Miranda Wang Xinying, who’s delighted to be back home in China following a lengthy and expensive travel ordeal.
Speaking at Orient Xiamen ahead of this week’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Orient Masters, the Beijing native said her journey home involved a flight from Los Angeles to Tianjin via Seoul at a ticket price 10-times more than the usual fare. Upon arrival in China, she had to quarantine for 14 days.
With her pro debut set to take place at last week’s Golf Liquor Zhuhai Golden Gulf Challenge, Wang’s plans were thrown into disarray when her flight was delayed by a typhoon. She eventually made it to Guangdong Province at 2 am on Wednesday, just hours before her tee-time.
After struggling to an opening 76, Wang, a recent graduate at Duke University, carded rounds of 69 and 66 to finish equal sixth.
“I feel like I am still warming up. I can definitely do better. Last week was not my best, but I learned a lot. I also communicated with my swing coach and my old coach from the Duke women’s golf team. They both told me to be confident and focus on my own game,” she said.
With the Symetra Tour not offering promotion to the US LPGA Tour this season and the latter not holding its annual qualifying tournament, Wang, who graduated with a double major in public policy studies and psychology at the North Carolina university, said it made sense to return home and try her luck on the China LPGA Tour.
Ultimately, her goal is to boost her world ranking and qualify for the LPGA Tour.
“Starting my pro career in my home country gives me more confidence and a sense of belonging. Most players on the CLPGA Tour are my old friends. I’ve known them for many years and I feel very familiar with this place. I feel very familiar with the staff and I feel very welcomed,” said Wang.
“I still find playing on the CLPGA very challenging. We have really good players right now, like Du Mohan and Yin Ruoning. They’re young but they are really pushing this game forward and they are bringing their game to another level. Competing with them will help me in my future career. Just playing on the CLPGA will help my game in general. I still have so much to learn.”
Also back in China this summer is Feng Simin. The former US LPGA Tour regular said she felt unsafe at her Irvine, California, home as some of her friends had contracted the virus and people in her community had tested positive.
The Beijing native has been spending her time taking online courses to complete her degree in business management at Vanderbilt University. Last week, she was equal 23rd in Zhuhai.
“The priority now is safety and health, not other things,” said Feng, the first amateur to win on the CLPGA Tour in 2012 when she captured the Wuhan Orient Masters Challenge as a 17-year-old.
Since qualifying for the LPGA Tour in 2015, Feng has struggled Stateside, her best year coming in 2016 when she posted two top-10 finishes. After losing her playing card in the US she has decided to play in Japan where she has playing rights on the JLPGA’s Development Tour.
“I’ve been back since July. Luckily the CLPGA was starting in August and I was able to play some tournaments for the first time since December. I’m excited to compete. I haven’t practiced much, but I did change my swing a bit. It’s great to test out my new swing in competition,” said Feng
“For the rest of this year, hopefully the Japan border will open up and I can go there for a couple of events and get myself ready for next year.”
Feng first played Orient Xiamen in competition when she was 13. To contend with Yin and Du this week, she knows her putting must be sharp. The 17-year-old Yin has won the first two events of the CLPGA Tour season, with Du runner-up on both occasions.
“I applaud them for a great job for two great events. Hopefully this week I can join them with some good scores,” said Feng.