Players grateful for China LPGA Tour events

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As the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of numerous tournaments and curtailed international travel, many of China's top golfers are home this summer honing their skills on the China LPGA Tour.

Miranda Wang Xinying is among them. The rookie pro said she was lucky to be here after returning to China last month following a lengthy travel ordeal that came at great expense.

Speaking at the Orient Xiamen ahead of the start of Wednesday's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Orient Masters, the Beijing native explained that her journey home involved a flight from Los Angeles to Tianjin via Seoul at a price 10-times more than the usual fare.

Upon arrival, the recent graduate of Duke University then 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 only made it to Guangdong province at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, just hours before her tee time, after a typhoon delayed her flight.

After struggling to an opening round 76, Wang then settled down to card rounds of 69 and 66 to finish an impressive tied-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 from that tournament. I also communicated with my swing coach and my old coach from the Duke women's golf team and they both told me to be confident and focus on my own game."

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 from North Carolina university, said it made sense to return home and try her luck on the CLPGA 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 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 naturally I just 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 this game to another level. I feel 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 gotten 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 finished tied for 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, the 25-year-old 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 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 very 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. She said the challenge for her this week would be putting if she wanted to be "in the mix" with Yin and Du. The 17-year-old Yin has won the first two events of the CLPGA Tour season, while Du has finished runner-up each time.

"I applaud them for a great job for two great events. Obviously it's not easy to shoot those kinds of scores on any golf course, wind or no wind. Hopefully this week I can join them with some good scores."

Orient Xiamen is a 6,342-yard, par-72 layout designed by Ronald Fream and TK Pen. 

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