Top-ranked Yani Tseng is counting on hometown advantage in the Taiwan Championship this week to win her first tournament since March.
Tseng’s success, including two majors each in 2010 and 2011, helped Taiwan land their first US. LPGA Tour event, and she won the inaugural event last year by five strokes. She wouldn’t mind if the second tournament starting on Thursday at Sunrise Golf and Country Club near the island’s northwest coast comes with more than a breeze.
“The stronger the wind, the better I play,” she quipped on Tuesday.
“I don’t think Yani’s game is declining as much as there’s so much robust competition and rising young stars”
Academic at University of Indianapolis, Larry DeGaris
Tseng grew up in the area. After winning three of her first five tournaments this year, her struggles, more mental than technical, are well known. But the U.S. LPGA Tour’s return to Asia this month has also seen a lift in her confidence, and results.
In the Sime Darby Malaysia two weeks ago, she was eased by the appearance of her coach Gary Gilchrist, and felt positive about a tie for 49th. Her mother and sister were on hand in South Korea last week to provide more good vibes as she finished third, one stroke out of a playoff in the HanaBank Championship.
It was her first top 10 in 12 starts since June.
Last year Tseng fed off the support of 67,000 mainly Taiwanese fans at Sunrise, and another big crowd is expected to follow one of the island’s few sports superstars.
“She went through a summer where she didn’t win every tournament, which was sort of strange,” U.S. LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan said.
Raised on golf since she was five, Tseng speaks modestly about her wins despite what experts call a technically flawless swing.
“I don’t think Yani’s game is declining as much as there’s so much robust competition and rising young stars,” said Larry DeGaris, the academic sports marketing program director at the University of Indianapolis.
Ryder stars collide
Meanwhile the men’s world number one Rory McIlroy has his sights firmly set on winning the money list on both major tours as he links up with most of his fellow European Ryder Cup heroes at this week’s BMW Masters in Shanghai.
For the first time since they stunned the United States in Medinah last month, McIlroy has joined 10 of his 12 Ryder Cup-winning team mates at the Lake Malaren course, although personal ambitions have now taken centre stage.
“I’ve got a big run left in my year with four tournaments in the next five weeks, so I would like to finish off the season as well as I can,” the Northern Irishman, who tops the U.S PGA Tour money list, told reporters on Tuesday after enjoying a week off.
“I have finished second in Europe’s Race to Dubai two of the last three years so it would be good to knock that off and try and do what Luke (Donald) did last year and win the money list on both Tours.
“I’ve got Justin (Rose) and Branden (Grace) right behind me and there is still some big-money events still to play, so I’ve four events left and if I do play well in those four events hopefully I can achieve that goal.”