Featured Golf News
Tseng Soaring this Year
While 22-year-old Rory McIlroy captivated the golf world with his record-setting victory in the U.S. Open at Congressional, there's been another 22-year-old who's been racking up some pretty impressive numbers as well.
If Yani Tseng can pull off a victory in this week's U.S. Women's Open at Broadmoor East in Colorado Springs, the Taiwanese superstar will have won five major titles, extending her record as the youngest player ever - male or female - to win so many major championships.
An Open triumph would also give her a career grand slam, a remarkable achievement that, for the handful of the game's greatest players who accomplished it, took decades to reach.
Her previous major came late last month in the LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., where she closed with a 6-under 66 for a 19-under total of 269 to seal a wire-to-wire win. Her 10-stroke margin of victory over runner-up Morgan Pressel tied the all-time mark set last year by Cristie Kerr.
The youngest player to win four majors before Tseng came along was a 23-year-old Patty Berg before the formation of the LPGA. The "official" youngest four-time major winners prior to Tseng were Si Re Pak on the LPGA Tour and Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour; both were 24.
Tseng has already racked up six wins this year - three on the LPGA Tour and three more internationally. She now has eight career LPGA wins and is tied for 15th on the all-time list for women with four majors.
Besides being long off the tee (she ranks fifth in driving distance on the LPGA), laser-like accuracy with her irons, and a deft touch on and around the greens, Tseng has her head in the right place.
Though the adjustment took awhile, she's getting comfortable being the center of attention at any tournament in which she's entered. "Like after I become world No. 1, I was little shocked, and so many interviews and so many people start recognize me," Tseng said Tuesday from The Broadmoor.
"I wasn't balanced. I was very tired. Like just my balance for interviews and those practice and relax. But now I kind of I get used to and it and I can balance all the things. I (now) enjoy those interviews, and now I can still enjoy my practice and still can take like a relax. Just feels really good. I come out this week and so many people recognize me that knows my name. I just feel very happy and feel lots of people support."
Tseng has also worked hard to learn English (her many recent interviews have been in her non-native language without an interpreter) to be able to better handle the media and spectators. Her "Americanization" has also led her to relocate permanently to the Orlando area, where she recently bought the former home of women golf's all-time greatest player, Annika Sorenstam. (Coincidentally, Sorenstam notched her first-ever LPGA Tour win in the 1995 U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor's East Course, site of this year's Open.)
During chipping contests Tseng picks the brains of her neighbors, who include two Brits - Justin Rose and Ian Poulter - and South African Trevor Immelman. "I have so many questions I can just ask them, and they always give me a very good advice," she said.
During her conversation with reporters Tuesday, Tseng discussed a variety of subjects. Though her diction was a bit halting at times, the new star of women's golf got her messages across loud and clear. Here's a full transcript of her Q&A with the media.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, first we'd like to welcome you to the 2011 U.S. Women's Open Championships. We're so happy to return to the Broadmoor where the Women's Open was played in 1995, and as you know, it was the first professional victory for Annika Sorenstam. The Broadmoor has hosted the U.S. Amateur twice, Curtis Cup matches in 1962 where the USA won by a record margin of 8 to 1; the 1982 U.S. Women's Open Amateur, which was won by Julie Simpson Inkster; the 1995 Women's Open; and the 2008 U.S. Women's Open. We'd like to welcome the No. 1 ranked player in the world, Yani Tseng, who is fresh off of a wonderful victory in the LPGA Championship. Congratulations, Yani.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
MODERATOR: You said it was very exciting. Your goal, I understand, has been to capture the career Grand Slam, to win all four major championships, and this is the only one that's missing from your collection. How do you plan to approach the women's Open this year to win?
YANI TSENG: You know, I feel less pressure this week than before. I always feel so much pressure on U.S. Open course. It's so tough, tough golf course. But after I see Rory McIlroy do it I feel much relaxed. I mean, the course, you still can beat a course. You just got to come out here and have fun, enjoy the pressure and enjoy the big crowds. Always very exciting to be here. Play it one shot at a time. I practice 18 holes last two days, and it feels really good. I think the course suit me very well, long distance. I think I can just hit the ball and just need to really figure out how to play the green here.
MODERATOR: Well, you're fifth on the driving list, I believe, driving distance. This is the longest course in Women's Open history at 7,047, and it's a par 71. The rough is quite lush and quite thick.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, rough is very thick. I practice yesterday try to figure it out. I mean, I just gonna ask coach how do I play those rough. Even here is 10% further, but I'm still really long. Some of the par-4 I still need to hit 5 irons, 4-iron, so it's really tough.
MODERATOR: And your coach's name is?
YANI TSENG: Gary Gilchrist.
Q. How does this course set up for your game? Does this suit your game, this course?
YANI TSENG: I think so. I mean, the fairway is not as narrow as I thought, so I can hit the driver and just on the fairway. I mean, the green is really big, so I just try to, you know, cut like two green or three green to make smaller. Because if you like leave 30, 40 feet you still can make three-putt easy on these green, so you need to be patient. I know it's going to have like some three-putt this week, but just be patient this week.
Q. With what you've done lately and with your victory at the LPGA and just really over the last six majors or whatever, how much more demand is there on your time? How much more difficult is it to deal with the amount of attention that you're starting to get?
YANI TSENG: Actually, now I'm kind of get used to it. Like after I become world No. 1, I was little shocked, and so many interviews and so many people start recognize me. I wasn't balanced. I was very tired. Like just my balance for interviews and those practice and relax. But now I kind of I get used to and it and I can balance all the things. I'm enjoy those interviews, and now I can still enjoy my practice and still can take like a relax. Just feels really good. I come out this week and so many people recognize me that knows my name. I just feel very happy and feel lots of people support.
Q. First, what is it that makes a good putter? Why do you think you succeed on the greens?
YANI TSENG: I think you need to be confidence. You need to come in your line. Even if it's wrong, you need to come in or do what you can do and make the stroke.
Q. It's obviously unfair to compare women's and the men's game mainly because of the strength factor. But on the greens where muscle is not an issue, are the women as good of putters as the men? Can they be? Would you welcome a putting contest with a male pro?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I see lots of good putter on the women's tour. On this tour they're very good, too. I think they're more aggressive and they don't afraid to miss the putt. You can tell their like body language, everything, they're not afraid of missing. But here I think we he take more times and try to make putt, but we still make lots of putt. So it's very different to watch, but I think we can have a very good putting contest with the men.
Q. I think half of your wins are majors. Why are you so successful at majors?
YANI TSENG: Um, I think I just focus more on a major, and I love a tough course. I love a challenge. I know a major you're not gonna be shooting lots like low score. You just need to be patient. Lots of people gonna make bogey. So if you make bogey there, it's no worries. But sometimes like normal tournament I'm try to worry too much if I don't make birdie or people gonna make bunch of birdies. But at a major course I just feel for confidence to just try to challenge those course, and I can play one shot at a time for myself.
Q. Annika won here back in '95, and I know you're good friends with her. How much have you asked her about this course and gotten some help from her?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I met her a couple days ago. It helps a lot. We have good wine and we chat a little bit. She tell me -- I mean, I tell her if I put too high expectation to win in this tournament. She said, No, if you just put like same as last week, then gonna win this week. She tell me she's very enjoy to watch me play, and that made me feel lots of confidence. She's say, You know, just like last week: smile always and be good body language, and then be aggressive. That's how you are. You will really enjoy this week.
Q. Se Ri Pak obviously opened up the door for a lot of people back home in South Korea. Do you feel like you're doing the same thing in Taiwan for other girls?
YANI TSENG: I'm trying to. I think so. I hope so, actually. Because I know Taiwan is not as popular with golf like Korea or Japan or here. I think it's getting better. Like back ten years ago we have so many great players, and then they like just -- they give us all lots of experience. You know, now I think it's our turn to make all like junior back to have more people play on the LPGA Tour or PGA Tour.
Q. Annika said you're the new face of women's golf. How did you react to that? More pressure?
YANI TSENG: No, no, no, I'm very happy, because she's my role model. She's like big idol. I wish I can -- you know in the future I want to be like her. She's done so many great things for the golf. And it's not just for golf. Even outside role for lots of charity and everything. She's very, very nice and classic player. So when she comment, I feel lots of confidence for myself. I don't feel any pressure. But first time when she say that, she's like I gonna be World No. 1 when I was rookie year, at that time I was really shocked. I thought she was kidding. But this time I feel it's different. This time I feel like, yeah, she might be true. So I really enjoy to hear she say that.
Q. Obviously everybody's talking about the possibility of you winning or completing a career slam at such a young age. Do you even allow yourself to think of that? Does that seem unreal to you to be on the verge of something like that?
YANI TSENG: I do. I really think about that beginning of this year. Because I feel like I need to prepare that because everybody's talking about that, and I feel pressure, too, because I wanted that. I want to win in this tournament, too. But, you know, I start prepare at the beginning and work with my coach, everything. I feel this week I feel very calm. I don't feel any pressure. I don't feel like people are talking and I feel pressure. I just really enjoy here, and I can handle the pressure better. I think if I don't prepare beginning of the year, then I will be more pressure here. But now I just -- I feel really good. I feel enjoy here, and that this is my goal. I want to win in this tournament. I play one shot at a time and do my best. If I don't win, I still have lots of years I can win.
MODERATOR: You recently bought Annika Sorenstam's house, and you live in an area where a lot of the great men's professionals live and practice and play in the same areas. I understand that you have befriended or they have befriended you and you've made friends with some of them, and that you have an opportunity to talk golf with some of them and talk about this very high level that you play at. Who are some of the professionals who maybe have helped you a little bit? In what way have they helped you?
YANI TSENG: I think I play with -- we practice together, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. We have a little chipping contest that can learn from that. My caddy and my coach -- my caddy like introduced from Ian, and my coach is introduced for Trevor Immelman. So I have so many questions I can just ask them, and they always give me a very good advice.
MODERATOR: What are some of the things they've told you?
YANI TSENG: Just, I mean, I feel they always tell me, Oh, you play so good. Sometimes I was struggling a little bit, but they say, You know, just need to trust yourself. That's how good you are. Don't worry about people who's talking behind you or say you have to do that. You just trust yourself and do what you like to do.
MODERATOR: So we're speaking of Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Trevor Immelman who have become your friends.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, kind of. But I feel like they're still like top there and still -- I mean, I still like -- they're not like my role model, too, so I hope we can be like friend, too.
Q. For those of us who don't cover you on a regular basis, tell us about growing up, who taught you the game, when did you decided you wanted to be a professional golfer?
MODERATOR: When did you decide you wanted to be a professional golfer, and talk about growing up, learning to play.
YANI TSENG: Oh, I played golf since I was five because of my parents. When I was 12 is first time came to States, and that's my first time I realize how tough is golf. I think that's the first time I tell myself, I want to be a pro and I want to be a world No. 1. But that was just a dream. It was so far away. I don't even know what's world No. 1 like. But at that time that's just my goal. When I was 13 that's the first time I watch a USGA, tournament, the U.S. Open that Juli Inkster won. I tell my friend, Ernie, I tell her, I want to play this tournament. I want to play U.S. Open. I don't know U.S. Open have to qualify, so I was just -- I don't know everything. So we just go search on like on USGA.com and see, Oh, what tournament can we play? That's how we get into those, like play in America some USGA tournament. That's how I did it, yeah.
MODERATOR: You attended that U.S. Women's Open Juli won at Prairie Dunes. Weren't you there?
YANI TSENG: Yeah I was there. Yes, I watched Annika and Juli Inkster. I'm like kids. I have a flag and everybody, player signed. See everybody, so lots of good memories there.
MODERATOR: So you were getting autographs as a spectator at that time and you were 13?
YANI TSENG: When I was 13. When I turned pro I told her, I have your autograph when I was 13. It was like, No, now you beat me. You don't need an autograph.
Q. When you first came here, obviously how has learning the English language been a confidence builder for you through the years as you have continued golf?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, you know, like last week I have a feel like -- because all the fans always say two years back I don't speak any English and I was afraid to talk. But now I can speak better. I think speaking English just give me lots of confidence. Sitting here or on the course, I don't afraid to talk to the player. But before when I don't, I try to stay away from them. Even they don't see me it's okay, because I was so afraid to talk. But now I just -- I don't afraid. I feel confidence. I like people to talk to me. I just really enjoy and feel I can be part of this. Now I can speak better English than when I when went into public. I don't speak any English. So much difference. I can share my story. I can tell the media, tell the fans what I think and what I like this golf course. So big difference.
MODERATOR: And where and when did you take English classes?
YANI TSENG: End of last year I went in school for three, four weeks, and it feels really good. Then on the tour I kind of just keep talking. So hopefully now I don't talk too much. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: You don't talk too much. You're fine. But where was that English school? Was it in Orlando?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it's in Orlando.
MODERATOR: The name?
YANI TSENG: Language Company.
MODERATOR: Language Company?
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
MODERATOR: And it was your idea to take the English classes, was it not?
YANI TSENG: Yes, because I feel like I need to improve. Because I think it's not just good for me, I think it's good for everybody and then just good for golf. I mean, I can share lots of stories to the people.
Q. I believe you're paired with Paula Creamer Thursday. What's it like to be playing with the defending champion?
YANI TSENG: Very good. I feel very good with this group. I play with her many times and we have so much fun. You know, we're just different type of a player. I think it's gonna be a big crowd, and I'm really enjoy. Very looking forward.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Good job.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We wish you lots of luck this week.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.