Seeks to complete mission at U.S. Women’s Open
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP) ― There was a time when Yani Tseng shied away from socializing on the golf course.
Usually outgoing, the top-ranked Taiwanese golfer was so insecure about her broken English that she would stay away from others in her group at LPGA events, rather than even attempt a conversation.
These days, Tseng’s English has become almost as polished as her golf game.
And with it, even more confidence.
The charismatic and well-spoken Tseng has become the face of women’s golf ― a title even bestowed on her by idol and friend Annika Sorenstam.
The 22-year-old is dominating like her childhood hero, too, capturing the LPGA Championship by 10 strokes two weeks ago to become the youngest player to claim four LPGA majors.
Yani Tseng of Taiwan speaks during a news conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tuesday. (AP-Yonhap News)
This weekend, Tseng can finish off her career grand slam by winning the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, a very long and challenging course.
Even with so much at stake, Tseng hardly feels any added pressure.
For that, she can thank Sorenstam, who’s easing her mind by giving her some pointers and tips about the course. Sorenstam won the 1995 U.S. Open at The Broadmoor, the first of her 10 major titles.
“We have good wine and we chat a little bit,” said Tseng, who bought Sorenstam’s house in Florida two years ago and has been quickly filling it up with trophies. “She tells me she enjoys watching me play.”
Especially at majors, where Tseng has typically thrived. Of her eight career LPGA Tour wins, half have been on the biggest of stages.
“I know at a major, you’re not going to be shooting a lot of low scores,” Tseng said. “You just need to be patient. If I make bogeys, no worries.
“If it’s a normal tournament, I worry too much.”
Part of Tseng’s transformation on the course has had to do with her confidence off it. No longer does she feel self-conscious on tour.
Just two years ago, she wasn’t her carefree self, hardly interacting with fans or engaging in banter with her fellow competitors.
She wanted to, but the language barrier made it too difficult. To address that, Tseng has been taking English lessons in Orlando, Florida.
“I like people to talk to me,” Tseng said. “Hopefully now I don’t talk too much.”
Tseng has certainly become the talk of the tour, ruling the sport like Sorenstam once did ― maybe even at a greater level. Sorenstam was 24 when she won her first major.
“In the future, I want to be like her,” Tseng said. “She’s done so many great things for golf.”
This week, Tseng is trying to figure out this difficult course, one that’s more than 7,000 yards long, making it the longest ever for a women’s U.S. Open.
The tricky greens that break away from the mountains don’t fluster Tseng.
The thick rough and playing at higher elevation hardly intimidate her, either.
Tseng believes this course favors her game.
These days, what course doesn’t?
But it doesn’t figure to be routine. The field features reigning champion Paula Creamer, along with 2007 Open winner Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis.
Betsy King will compete in her first tour event in nearly six years after qualifying through sectionals.
At 55, King said her main goal isn’t so much finishing in the top 10 as making the cut, especially given the way Tseng and other up-and-comers are striking the ball.