Tseng Starts Out Hot in Canada

Yani Tseng is in a familiar position in the Canadian Women's Open. The 23-year-old, who's struggled the past few months despite three victories on the LPGA Tour early in the year, carded a 66 to take the first-round lead in the $2 million LPGA Tour event, which started Thursday at a rain-softened Vancouver Golf Club in Coquitlam, B.C.

After a double-bogey on the first hole, Tseng turned things around quickly, putting up five birdies on the front nine and three more on the back for her 6-under score, which gives the Taiwanese superstar a one-shot lead over Na Yeon Choi of South Korea.

Of her rocky start, Tseng said, "On number 1, I hit my driver all the way to the right. I should chip it out inside but it went over the tree. I'll never do that again. I know I could be a couple shots better if I don't have that double . . . So I'm very happy with my round today, and very much looking forward to tomorrow and keep making birdies." (See below of Tseng's full post-round interview.)

Choi, who held the lead for much of the first round before Tseng came in, wasn't sure what to expect before teeing off Thursday. "I talked to my parents last night. I told them, and they asked me, 'How is the course?' I said the course is very difficult, and I don't know. I could shoot a lower score. I might shoot even par all day will be my good score," said the 2012 U.S. Women's Open champion.

"I didn't expect much to play low scores on this course, but I had a birdie on 2, and then I had three birdies in a row on the front nine," added Choi. "Then I think I got some good vibes from there. I just tried to stay calm because there was a lot of rain and stuff. So I just tried to stay calm and stay focused on my game. Just tried to hit the fairways first, and then greens first, and then just make the par. If I have a birdie chance, I just tried my best to make the putt. After the 18th hole I shot 5 under. I think I'm really happy and I'm very satisfied."

Two back are South Korean Inbee Park and New Zealand's 15-year-old Lydia Ko. Ko cemented her position as the top-ranked female amateur in the world by winning the recent U.S. Women's Amateur.

Ko acknowledged that she's been on a very good roll. "I've played three events before this and I've gotten a medal for each event, so that's pretty good. Hopefully I'll be able to get a medal this week as well," said the South Korean-born phenom.

"I mean, I won the U.S. Amateur, and to me putting was never my confident part, and I was putting really good at the amateur. And Kay Cockerill said I was a show game queen, so I think that went really good, and my putting helped a lot today. The greens weren't that fast. But there were a few tricky points, and I think I went really well."

Tied for fifth after 69s are Mindy Kim, Moira Dunn, Angela Stanford and Jee Young Lee. The seven players four back of Tseng include Sydnee Michaels, Christine Song, Jiyai Shin, Vicky Hurst, Eun-Hee Ji, Amy Yang and Paige MacKenzie.

Brittany Lincicome opened in defense of her Canadian Open title with an even-par 72, while the 2010 champion, Michelle Wie, had a 74 that included five bogeys and three birdies.

Wie was a bit disgruntled afterward, noting that her play Thursday mirrored her performance this season when, in 14 starts, she's made seven cuts - including just one top-10 - en route to earning $83,317 to rank 73rd on the money list.

"Just haven't been playing well this year, but it's always a work in progress," said the 22-year-old who's looking to regenerate her year this week in a tournament that she also finished tied for second last year. "I've been trying to take a lot of positives from it. You know, felt good last week and for the remainder of the season, I'm just going to keep my head up and try to play well."

For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.aspx.

After signing her scorecard, Tseng met with reporters for the following Q&A.

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our current leader, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room. Quite an impressive round out there for you today, 6 under par, 66, that even included a double bogey in there. Seemed like you really just had things working for you today. Take me through the round and how great, as you said last week, shooting 5 under felt like the greatest round ever? This one must feel good as well.

YANI TSENG: Yeah, I feel so good and so happy. Today out there with so many fans following this group, I'm so excited to have their support. They always give me a big crowd on every shot. I hit so many good shots to day, but I didn't drive that well on the front nine. So I saved like three or four shots out of like 15 feet for par, so that was huge for me. On number 1, I hit my driver all the way to the right. I should chip it out inside but it went over the tree. I'll never do that again. I know I could be a couple shots better if I don't have that double. But it could be a couple shots worse if I don't save that par on the front nine. So I'm very happy with my round today, and very much looking forward to tomorrow and keep making birdies.

MODERATOR: Last week you said you felt like Yani's back. What's been the biggest difference in your performance last week and how you played out there today? Is it confidence? What is it you feel has been the biggest difference to being able to put these rounds together again?

YANI TSENG: I think that confidence is big. It's very important for me. I mean, this week if I missed a couple of shots I don't worry about it, not like before. I feel like this is the way I used to play, so if I hit the best shot, I just try to recover from there. If not, if I make bogey, I try to make birdie the next hole, so I'm not worried. But like the last couple of months, it seems like I'm worried too much. I don't know if I can make birdie again. But today on No. 1, I make double there. But I make like five birdies on the back, so that was very good.

MODERATOR: Overall, when the golf course is playing today, the last few days how tough the greens were, how hard they were getting, that little bit of rain this morning. Did you notice a big difference this afternoon how receptive the greens were?

YANI TSENG: Yeah, the greens were much softer this afternoon. They weren't as fast as they were yesterday. So I think it's pretty good. It's playing like not as hard as yesterday. So in the afternoon, I felt like I would get a little lucky. I didn't get too much rain out there. It was a beautiful weather and the people out there were so nice, so I was really enjoying this afternoon.

Q. You birdied I think five of your last six holes. How close were they? Were there any long putts or were you dialed in with your irons? Were they all very close?

YANI TSENG: I putted a couple of long putts. Like the last hole was like one foot. On number 8, it was like ten feet and number 7 - number 6 was like 4 feet. But number 5 was like 30 feet. So that was huge. Number 4 I had one foot, so I hit my irons good. I think on the back nine I drive much better. I kind of figured out how can I play a straighter shot because of the front nine? I only hit the second one with two fairways, so it's just not good. So I'm happy that I figured out the back nine.

Q. You are the number 1 ranked player in the world. You seem very motivated right now. You obviously want to hang on to that. That's important to you to be number 1 and stay there?

YANI TSENG: Yeah. Number 1 has always been my dream. I want to stay in this place as well as possible. I feel there is a long way to go, and so many things I can learn and I can play. Like the last couple months I was traveling, so it was a very good lesson for me to learn.

Q. That watch you just put on, is that a Rolex that you get for being number 1?

YANI TSENG: Yeah, this is a Rolex from Player of the Year. So it kind of gives me motivation that I want another Rolex watch too.

Q. I watched a number of players coming in on 18. A lot of players seemed to be coming in short. You came in almost on target. You birdied 18.


Q. I'm wondering if during this round, if memory starts to kick in at any time and you remember the previous four rounds you played here? Does that play any part?

YANI TSENG: I couldn't remember much. I know I was like 1 under or 2 under for two days. The last few holes were very tough. Today, especially today we played long. On the 18 hole I hit it perfect right on target. The last three holes are very important for this tournament that you need to be patient. You need to strike it on the fairway and do the best you can.

Q. You played the course in reverse today, right? You started on 10?


Q. But you're talking about the last few holes. You were referring to those par 4s that finish. How tough are they going to be on the weekend down the stretch?

YANI TSENG: Like today it was a little wet out there. But I think when it gets dry, it's going to be much harder and you might need to hit a little higher shot to let the ball stop better. But like the last three holes seemed like this course is very narrow, a very tree lined course. On number 15, I forget, the fairway was the worst, so that was tough out there. But everything is kind of very straightforward. I think you need it to give you a couple more shots to go into the last four holes.

Q. Do you feel excited that there were so many Taiwan he's fans here for you today?

YANI TSENG: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I feel very excited. Not just Taiwanese fans, all the fans out there. They give me big, big support. I was very appreciative. That way I feel I'm playing a tournament. With all the crowd there and they all follow me 18 holes, so I was very appreciative of their support.

Q. When you have a finish like that, five birdies the last six holes, is that a momentum builder and something you take into the next day, or do you say tomorrow's a new day and I have to start all over again? What do you do with that?

YANI TSENG: Yeah, I wish I didn't finish today. I wish I could keep going, keep playing. But 18 holes are finished. Tomorrow say new day. I'll try to keep the momentum going and do the best I can and make more birdies. But tomorrow is going to be a new day. If I hit my driver better, I feel like tomorrow will be fine too.

Q. When you said that Yani is back and of course now you're starting to show it to us here in Coquitlam, do you feel you can control your game that well?

YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think so. That's why I shot 6 under today. With the double, I'm just very happy what I've done today. I'm very patient the whole day. Even when I hit it in the tree and I still tried to save par in the tree. So I feel I can control the game very well. But hopefully the next three days I can still stay positive and don't try to think too much of the win and just try to play one shot at a time.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.