Chinese Government Pressuring LPGA Pros To WD

Two Chinese LPGA Tour pros, including a top-10 player in the world, withdrew from this week’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan at the last minute due to pressure from someone “high up” in the Chinese government, according to a report from Reuters.

Shanshan Feng, the ninth-ranked player in the world, and LPGA Tour rookie Yu Liu pulled out of the event, which they had previously committed to, at the 11th hour because of political reasons, sources familiar with the situation told the news agency.

China views Taiwan as a “wayward province,” and has ramped up efforts to “assert its sovereignty” over the island. However, Taiwan, under the leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen of the “independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party,” diplomatic and political ties have deteriorated. 

The report states that it is unclear who told the pair of Chinese golfers that they should not attend the event, but Liu insinuated that she was pressured to withdraw in posts on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo.

“They said I can’t respond regarding the issue of withdrawing from the competition,” Liu told Reuters. Pressed on it, Liu refused to comment, but said it was “not for personal reasons.”

Both players are represented by WME-IMG’s Ruby Chen who denied there was any pressure placed upon the players to withdraw, but declined to comment further.

An LPGA Tour official told Reuters that there were no plans to fine either player for the last-minute WD “given the circumstances.”