Yani Tseng became the youngest player to win three major championships on the strength of supreme ballstriking. As Juli Inkster said, Royal Birkdale was a course built for Tseng. So it was interesting that shortly after her victory, an e-mail crossed the pond from Tseng’s former instructor, Glen Daugherty. The California teaching pro wanted to make sure Tseng’s current teacher, Gary Gilchrist, got his due in print.
How often does that happen?
“Gary is a pretty low-key, humble guy but I can tell you that he has been able to help Yani make some very significant improvements in her swing and, I believe, she is swinging the club the best that she ever has,” Daugherty wrote. “Also, I can tell you from experience that Yani is usually very reluctant to make changes and that makes Gary’s achievements all the more impressive.”
Actually, Gilchrist thinks that his help has been more mental than technical.
“The reason why I get players to win tournaments is because the goal is to build confidence in themselves,” Gilchrist said.
Of course, Tseng also has made a number of physical improvements, including:
- Being less laid-off at the top
- A more synchronized swing thanks to motion drills
- A putter that’s square at address rather than shut
- A straightened putting posture
“Now the challenge is balancing expectations,” Gilchrist said. “Setting a realistic goal.”
Tseng headed to Manchester, England, on Sunday evening because her road manager, Sherry Lin, got a tip on a good mall. Lin was prepared to map out the excursion to maximize their time before heading to the airport. If there’s anything that comes close to bringing a smile to Tseng’s face as quickly as winning majors, it’s browsing through British fashion designer Paul Smith’s most recent collection.
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And then there were two: Arizona State’s offseason freefall has been a stunner. The headline on the school’s release looked unfinished (parentheses mine): “Sweeney Becomes Ninth Sun Devil Under Head Coach Melissa Luellen to Pursue Professional Golf” (Remaining Sun Devils forced to play two-man scrambles). Jaclyn Sweeney is the fourth key player under Luellen – and second this offseason – to leave Tempe at an inopportune time, joining Jennifer Johnson (who turned pro five weeks ago), Anna Nordqvist (2009) and Louise Stahle (2005).
Sweeney’s departure leaves only juniors Carlota Ciganda and Giulia Molinaro on ASU’s current roster. Colombia’s Laura Blanco has signed with the Sun Devils, but the incoming freshman has to retake the SAT before she can start. Blanco will take the test again in October and hopes to start school in January. She recently beat compatriot and recent ASU graduate Juliana Murcia at the Colombian Women’s Amateur.
ASU might not be in action at all this fall, an odd development for a team that spent much of last year ranked No. 1. Luellen is spending part of this month recruiting internationally. A little face time with Ciganda (from Spain) and Molinaro (from Italy) had better be part of that itinerary.
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Major consistency: In-Kyung Kim didn’t quite claim the prize, but her finishes in the summer majors deserves respect. The 22-year-old went 5-4-3 in the last three majors of 2010. She moved into the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings after a T-3 at Royal Birkdale. In her 15 major appearances as a professional, Kim has six finishes inside the top 9, including five top 5s in her past 10 majors.
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Are we done yet? The LPGA announced details of its Tour Championship Thursday morning. The event will be held Dec. 2-5 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla., as Golfweek first reported. The tournament will be played on a combination of the North and South courses. Like last year, the 120-player field will be cut to low 70 and ties after 36 holes and low 30 and ties after Round 3.
This is a particularly late finish for the LPGA, which typically hosts its final stage of Q-School that week in Daytona Beach, Fla. Q-School has been pushed back one week. Anyone who complains about this timeframe, however, should probably think twice. It’s not as if LPGA players have been particularly taxed this season, with plenty of long, forced breaks throughout the year. Of course it’s not ideal to host a tournament this late in the year with no title sponsor. But in this economic climate, ideal is a luxury few can afford.