RANCHO MIRAGE, California (AP) ― Yani Tseng got a good laugh when she walked past the pond where she celebrated her Kraft Nabisco Championship victory last year by leaping into the water ― and then remembering she doesn’t know how to swim.
Tseng survived that traditional plunge and swam all the way to the world No. 1 ranking after winning the LPGA Tour’s first major of the year at Mission Hills in 2010.
“I feel really excited to come back, especially walking on the 18th hole,” Tseng said. “I see my name was on the walk of champions. It was so exciting, brings me a lot of good memories, and then I just came over, and that’s the water I jumped in. My caddie threw a coin to wish I could win the tournament this week, too.”
World No. 1 Yani Tseng (AFP-Yonhap News)
She’ll try to defend her title against a field featuring seven past champions, including two-time champ Karrie Webb and 2009 winner Brittany Lincicome, but there’s little doubt the good-natured 22-year-old from Taiwan is considered the player to beat. Tseng has won four tournaments worldwide already this year, including the tour’s season opener in Thailand.
Michelle Wie also is back in search of her first major title at a tournament where she made four top-15 finishes before she turned 17. Wie is thoroughly impressed by Tseng, who’s less than nine months older than the former teen prodigy from Hawaii.
“I think she’s really improved over the last couple of years, and she’s a good player,” Wie said. “It’s pretty amazing that she won the first couple of tournaments in a row, which is pretty good.”