BEDMINSTER, N.J. — If Donald Trump does present the trophy to the winner of the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday and if that winner happens to be Shanshan Feng, it could open a world of possibilities. Specifically, who knows what she might say?
Feng gave Chinese president Xi Jinping a salutation he never will forget when he welcomed her and all of her fellow athletes home from the Rio Olympics last year. They were at a reception in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and, as a bronze medalist, she was in the front row, toward the side, she recalled yesterday after having made 17 pars and a birdie on No. 18 to finish the third round with a one-shot lead.
“There were like maybe 10 people before me. Here he came and I felt like he was like so charming. I felt like there was a ring around him,” Feng said. “He was just shaking the hand for like one second or two, but when it got to my turn, I held his hand. I said, ‘President, you’re so handsome!’
“I mean, I didn’t even think about it. I just said it because it was what I was feeling at the time. He was shocked. He actually stepped back and then shook my hand again,” she said. “So, I actually got to meet him for four seconds. I think that was great.”
There is speculation that Trump will deliver the trophy, as Warren Harding did for Jim Barnes at the 1921 men’s U.S. Open.
Feng put herself in position to receive it from whoever hands it off. She holds the lead for a third consecutive round. Feng is at 9 under, one ahead of Amy Yang and amateur Hye-Jin Choi. She stayed in front despite not having had a great round. “Putting didn’t really work today,” she said. “I just couldn’t get the line and the speed together. Then I was like, ‘OK, let’s go to Plan B. Plan B is like when I try to hit the ball closer to the holes.”
What if that fails? “Plan C is like when I try to hit them in the hole,” she said.
Feng does have a major championship on her resume, the 2012 Wegmans LPGA. But a U.S. Women’s Open might be on a different level and it might take on greater cachet at home in light of her Olympic medal.
“I think it would be great if any Chinese can win majors but I’m not going to say how big it is going to be,” the 27-year-old said. “Let’s see what happens if I win and then we’ll know.”
If that does happen, does she have a comment planned for the President of the United States? She was asked that yesterday and wouldn’t touch it. She said, “Hmmmm. You want to talk about what I’m wearing tomorrow?”