SOUTHPORT, England – It shouldn’t be long before Tseng Ya-ni is penciled into the No. 1 position at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. That seems to be a foregone conclusion for the Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) golfer after her exploits in winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Tseng seems to have a penchant for major championships. She prefers major wins to regular tour victories. Of her four LPGA wins so far, three have come in the majors. She won the 2008 McDonald’s LPGA Championship, this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship and now the British Open. Her other LPGA win came in last year’s Corning Classic.
At just 21, Tseng became the youngest winner of three women’s majors when she eked out a one-shot victory over Australian Katherine Hull in the Women’s British. It shouldn’t be long before Tseng is filing her trophy room with more major trophies.
“I’ve only won one normal tournament, so I wish I cold win more,” Tseng said. “I always play well in majors. I like the challenge. The majors make me focus on everything.”
She has incentive to win more majors. Annika Sorenstam was Tseng’s idol growing up. When Tseng made enough money after just one year on the LPGA, she did what came natural – she bought Sorenstam’s former Orlando, Fla.-area home.
Tseng can easily afford to live the same lifestyle that Sorenstam enjoyed. Her win at Birkdale Golf Club took her past $4 million in career earnings.
Needless to say, the trophy room in Sorenstam’s former home is pretty large. The Swede won 72 LPGA tournaments, including 10 majors from 1995 to 2006.
“I need to win many more to fill the room,” Tseng said.
Tseng used Sorenstam as inspiration at Birkdale after the Swede contacted her young friend before the final round.
“Annika sent me a message,” Tseng said. “She has been so supportive. She said she was happy to see me on top and that is where you belong. She said just trust in your ability and you will be fine. I wrote that in my yardage book to remind me during the final round.”
It paid off. Tseng was almost “Sorenstamesque’’ at Birkdale. After leading wire to wire, she ground out a 1-over 73 to become the first player from Chinese Taipei to win the Women’s British.
Tseng entered the British Open as world No. 5, but most pundits think it won’t be too long before she sits atop the rankings. Whether she wins as many majors as Sorenstam is a matter for debate, but she’s ahead of schedule. The Swede did not win her first major until she was 24.
Tseng could win a few more by that age.