Golf-Tseng new tour royalty after LPGA Championship win

Reuters

Mon, 27 Jun 02:31:00 2011

Taiwan's Yani Tseng followed in the regal line of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as the class of the LPGA Tour after her dominant victory at the LPGA Championship on Sunday.

Tseng overpowered the Locust Hill course and overwhelmed the 150-player field, using her booming tee shots and pinpoint irons to claim a 10-shot victory with a 19-under-par total that matched the best score in relation to par in a women's major.

The 22-year-old Tseng became the youngest golfer to win four professional majors, and her victory gave her wins in three of the last six majors.

"She's the new face of the LPGA," 10-times major winner Sorenstam told the Golf Channel in a telephone interview.

Tseng, who bought Sorenstam's house near Orlando, Florida, two years ago and lives a wedge shot away from the Swede, said she received a text message from her Sunday morning.

"She said, 'bring the trophy home'," Tseng said after her magnificent win. "I just really appreciate that."

Tseng showed her resilience as well as her prodigious talents in her romp to victory.

The long-hitting Taiwanese had marvelled at the eight-stroke, runaway win achieved at last week's U.S. Open by fellow 22-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, and said she would like to emulate it.

Tseng did just that and, like McIlroy, won in emphatic fashion to dispel the disappointment from the previous major -- in her case April's Kraft Nabisco where she squandered a two-stroke lead.

PEP TALK

At Locust Hill, Tseng overcame all doubts.

After Friday's second round, she led by one stroke but was discouraged by two missed putts inside three feet.

She spent an hour on the practice green afterwards, but rather than work on her stroke she got a pep talk from coach Gary Gilchrist.

"I told her what you can learn from it," Gilchrist told reporters as they strolled along with him, watching Tseng tear up the course in the final round.

"You know, your name is still on top of the scoreboard. You have to let it go. I told her the main you reason you missed is because you're thinking too much.

"I said tomorrow's game plan, there will be no practice strokes on the green. Focus on a tree before you putt. And if you miss, put it in your pocket and keep your mind quiet.

"We can focus on the two you missed, or the 11 you made. She said, 'Yeah. You're right'."

On Saturday, Tseng rebounded from her lone bogey by hitting it close for birdie in a 67 that lifted her to a five-shot lead.

On Sunday, distracted by the click of a camera shutter, she bogeyed the first hole after pulling her drive but bounced right back with three birdies in a row.

EARLY PROMISE

Tseng is not a surprise phenomenon.

She first gained notice in the United States at age 15 when she birdied the last hole to beat 14-year-old Michelle Wie and win the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links championship.

A year later, Tseng defeated Morgan Pressel, a future women's major winner and Sunday's runner-up, in the North & South Amateur, another of her 19 amateur victories.

She turned professional in January 2007 and competed on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour, winning the Women's Indian Open. Tseng also played on the Canadian Women's Tour and won in Vancouver.

She earned full playing privileges on the LPGA Tour by finishing sixth in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in December 2007. Six months later she claimed her first LPGA Tour title -- the LPGA Championship -- to become the first player from Taiwan to win an LPGA major.

In 10 days, Tseng will aim at another major goal.

While victory at the U.S. Women's Open at Broadmoor in Colorado would complete a career grand slam for the precocious Tseng, she is determined to have some fun first.

"I am going to Niagara Falls tomorrow, look at that beautiful place and then back to Orlando and to the swimming pool," she said. "Just relax and enjoy."

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