Tseng, Hull take mental game to new levels
SOUTHPORT, England – Yani Tseng has a playlist in her mind of “old school” Taiwanese songs. She hits shuffle in between shots to keep her mind from doing a nosedive when she finds a pot bunker. Sound familiar? Brittany Lincicome crooned country (internally) en route to her victory at the 2009 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Both players spoke with Vision54 mental gurus for the first time early tournament week.
“I felt like I needed to talk to somebody,” said Tseng, who had three notes written in her Rolex yardage book:
1) Strong and happy body language;
2) Sing a song in head if thinking ahead;
3) Simple routine - 5 seconds in the playbox
Tseng, 21, has worked mainly with Lynn Marriott this week. It’s nothing permanent, just an experiment of sorts. She is fully aware of their current stable of players, which includes Ai Miyazato (No. 2 in the world), Na Yeon Choi (6th), Song-Hee Kim (9th) and Lincicome (22nd).
“I think if I talk to them, it’s not going to be worse,” Tseng said. “It’s going to be the same or better.”
Tseng said her victory at the Kraft in April felt like two years ago. She needed something special to happen.
On the 54th hole of this Women’s British Open, she drained a 20-foot putt for eagle and shot 68, taking a four-shot lead heading into Sunday. She’ll be paired in the final round with Katherine Hull, who closed her round with five consecutive birdies to shoot 66. Such is the explosive nature of Royal Birkdale, where coming down the stretch, no lead is sacred.
“If you’re not making birdies,” said Hull, “you do feel like you’re losing ground out there.”
While Tseng has won twice in 11 majors, Hull has only one top 10 to her credit in 23 major appearances.
The 2008 CN Canadian Women’s Open winner isn’t really bothered about that fact, but said her game has become better suited for links golf since she has learned how to shape the ball. Hull’s coach, Steve McRae, asked her on the range in 2007 if she could hit a fade. At the time, Hull hit everything 15 yards right of where she wanted to aim. Since that moment, the pair have worked hard to neutralize her swing, allowing her to move the ball comfortably in both directions.
A specific example of this would be the par-3 14th, where the wind was blowing hard right to left. Today, Hull hit a cut that drifted a hair and almost went in the hole, landing 6 feet away. Last year, she would’ve aimed right and hoped the ball stayed on the green.
She’s having more fun this way.
“I’ve got a dream job,” said Hull, who wore shorts on a summer British day that actually featured sun. “I’m just having a ball now.”
Hull’s best finish at the British Open is a T-40 in 2009. She’s bound to improve upon that this year. Her year thus far hasn’t been terribly dynamic, with two top 10s. She missed the cut last week at the Evian Masters, but got a good word from her caddie, Vern Tess, this week.
The pair were discussing what goes through the mind over the ball and Hull confessed hers often goes blank. She used to draw dots on the ball as a point of focus but got away from that practice.
“This whole week the goal was to look at the back of the ball,” Hull said.
And, hopefully, watch the ball hit the back of the cup.