Angel Yin's distance, humor a welcome addition for Team USA at Solheim Cup

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Angel Yin's distance, humor a welcome addition for Team USA at Solheim Cup

LPGA Tour

Angel Yin's distance, humor a welcome addition for Team USA at Solheim Cup

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Angel Yin wanted her pre-tournament press conference at the Solheim Cup to go longer.

“I gotta get my face out there,” said the rookie, noting her lack of sponsors.

Yin, 18, often wears a Kanye West hat when she’s competing on tour, though many people miss the connection between the “Dropout Bear” and the American rapper, assuming she simply likes teddy bears.

When asked at the ANA Inspiration earlier this year if West was her sponsor, Yin leaned into the tape recorder and yelled “Yeah! Kanye, sponsor me!” 

The California native orders her unique lids online, though this week’s headgear is of the red, white and blue variety and courtesy of the LPGA.

Yin, the youngest player on both teams in Iowa, has played up for her age her entire career, winning the California Women’s Amateur at age 12 and qualifying for U.S. Women’s Open at age 13. At 14, she tied for 55th at what was then known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship. 

But while her massive game belies her age, Yin is 100 percent teenager. Refreshingly so. At her pre-tournament presser with podmates Michlle Wie, Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas, Yin marveled at the fact that only two years ago she was competing in the Junior Solheim Cup, calling this the “adult” Solheim.

“Adult Solheim? Really?” Kang said, laughing.

“You’re adulting,” added an amused Wie.

Yin confessed that she’d been mistaken this week as a Junior Solheim Cup player: “I said no, I’m in the big one.”

While only a rookie on the LPGA, Yin has made the cut three times already at the ANA Inspiration and found herself playing solo for the first time as a pro last spring. She polled her peers to see if she should take a marker and found that most suggested she play by herself. Yin felt so relaxed at the year’s first major she compared it to an outing.

“Three holes in I was like 2 over,” she said, “didn’t quite get the pace. But then I got it and was like, ‘Ah, this is it.’ ”

Yin is a bona fide trip. She’s as funny as she is long, which explains why “lol” is in her twitter handle (@angelyinlol). U.S. captain Juli Inkster said the team had a lot to do with her selecting Yin as a captain’s pick. 

Yin hadn’t been to any functions or dinners, mostly because the LPGA rookie was off Inkster’s radar. Inkster was down in Mexico last May for Lorena Ochoa’s Hall of Fame exhibition match and when her competition had finished, she went out to watch Yin take on Michelle Wie in a playoff.

The first shot Inkster saw Yin hit was a drive that sailed 30-plus yards past Wie. Yin ultimately lost that playoff, but even Wie walked off gushing about her opponent’s power.

At the Ricoh Women’s British Open, Yin confirmed that not one player on the LPGA has outdriven her so far this year. She takes pride in that fact. 

Yin idolizes 27-year-old Wie, but she’s not afraid to joke with the star about her advantage off the tee.

“She got nothing on me,” joked Yin, waving her hand in front of her neck, “that height, useless.”

Earlier in the week at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, Wie thought Yin had sprayed it badly off the tee on a dogleg right, only to discover that she’d purposely carried all the trouble.

“We got down there and it was in the middle of the fairway,” said Wie, “just 100 yards in front of me.”

Wie also praised Yin’s touch on the greens. She ranks 15th in putting on tour.

Two years ago Yin said she sat in the corner in Germany, afraid to meet the pros. Now that she’s on the LPGA and holding her own among the game’s elite, Yin put herself out there with Solheim veterans.

“She’s not afraid to go up to Cristie Kerr and say I want to play a practice round with you or a Stacy Lewis,” said Inkster.

Kerr called Yin “a helluva player” and praised her attitude. Lewis described her as fearless.

“The shots she can hit, nobody else can hit,” said Lewis. “She’s got Ariya’s length but high and straight. She doesn’t quite probably know how to manage it yet is the only thing holding her back.”

Yin, who ranks 50th in the world and finished 11th on the LET’s Order of Merit last season, set the Solheim Cup as a goal at the start of 2017. She joins Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Alison Lee and Charley Hull as players who jumped from the Junior Solheim to the “adult” event in only two years. 

I eyed it down,” said Yin.

Now comes the attention she’s been waiting for.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home