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China’s world No. 1 Yin Ruoning a ‘big step’ closer to emulating inspirational golfer Feng Shanshan

CINCINNATI – Yin Ruoning is set to become world No. 1 after recording her third straight top-three LPGA finish on Sunday and the Chinese 20-year-old said the top ranking would mark another milestone in her bid to emulate compatriot Feng Shanshan.

Feng, who retired in August 2022, had 10 wins on the elite women’s tour and was the first Chinese player, man or woman, to win a golf Major when she claimed the title at the 2012 Women’s PGA Championship.

Yin also won her first Major at the same event in June and described Feng, who stayed at the summit from November 2017 to April 2018, as an “inspiration” to her.

Ranked outside the top 400 in 2022, Yin finished third at the LPGA Queen City Championship in Cincinnati on Sunday, behind winner Minjee Lee of Australia and England’s Charley Hull.

She had also finished third at the CPKC Women’s Open in Canada and the Portland Classic in August.

“I’ve got goosebumps,” Yin said when asked about how it would feel to take over from Lilia Vu as world No. 1 when the rankings were updated later on Monday.

“World No. 1 is the big step on the way to chasing Shanshan. It means a lot. It’s like a dream come true… It’s just amazing. My mind is blank right now. Maybe I can’t say something until I finally see my name as world No. 1.”

Yin said she would soon have the chance to talk with Feng, who will coach China’s team at the Asian Games, which begin on Sept 23 in Hangzhou.

“I didn’t get a lot of chances to chat with Shanshan. But I’m looking forward to going back to China and play the Asian Games and spend more time with her,” she said.

Yin, who needed a top-four result to overtake Vu for the top spot, missed out by two strokes on a play-off for the Queen City title between Lee, who won the title with a birdie on the second extra hole, and Hull.

But Yin fired a final-round five-under-par 67 to finish third on 14-under 274 at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, and become the fifth different player atop the rankings in 2023.

Others to top the rankings in 2023 were New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Americans Vu and Nelly Korda and South Korea’s Ko Jin-young.

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Yin never managed to share the lead, settling for her fourth third-place finish in five events, but did what she needed to leap to the top of the rankings.

“I’m pretty comfortable. Just every week I know I’m in a good spot and every week I can put myself into that winning circle. It’s just amazing to see I can play good, but also consistent,” Yin said.

“Before this week, I know (depending on) what position I finish, I can be the world No. 1. I just keep that in my mind,” Yin added.

“Last hole, I checked the leaderboard. I was like, OK, another week finishing third, but I’m assuming I’ll be the world No. 1.” REUTERS, AFP

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