Baldry: Can others keep up with Yani?
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Yani Tseng’s trainer found two four-leaf clovers on the grounds of Locust Hill and gave them to Tseng and her caddie before the start of Sunday’s round. A nice gesture, but Tseng didn’t need any luck. She solidified her place as the most dominant player in the women’s game with her 10-stroke victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and, at age 22, became the youngest player in LPGA history to win four majors. For comparison, Young Tom Morris got his fourth major on the men’s side at age 21 in 1872.
One week after Rory McIlroy set the golf world abuzz with his commanding victory at the U.S. Open, Tseng followed with her own historic run at the LPGA’s second major of the year. She now heads to The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., next month seeking her first U.S. Women’s Open victory and the final leg of the LPGA career Grand Slam. (She also would be the youngest to accomplish that feat.)
“I walked on the 18th hole, I almost cry because so emotional,” Tseng said. “I’m from Taiwan. It’s a little country, and the people here are very, very supportive of me. I feel really good about that.”
Tseng has eight LPGA victories, half of them major championships. Her 19-under 269 total ties the record for lowest round at an LPGA major. Tseng had a 12-foot birdie try on the 18th to get to 20 under that slid past the hole. She closed with a 6-under 66. Morgan Pressel finished solo second at 9 under, and three players finished at 8 under: Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer and 2010 champion Cristie Kerr.
“It’s always fun to win a major,” Tseng said.
Annika Sorenstam, Tseng’s idol and neighbor in the Lake Nona community of Orlando, Fla., was watching the telecast from her home. Tseng bought Sorenstam’s old house, and the pair live 50 yards apart.
“She set the pace early in the year,” said Sorenstam, who is impressed by how far Tseng has come in the past two years. “She’s the face of the LPGA.”
At age 22, Hall of Famer Karrie Webb had been on the LPGA for only a year and “wasn’t even contemplating” what Tseng has accomplished.
“A lot of the young players have come out and made a burst and then struggle to find their feet,” Webb said. “Yani had that success and probably had a year where she struggled, but since she won Kraft last year, she hasn’t looked back.”
Pettersen often has birdie bets with Tseng during tournaments. When asked if they had a wager this week, Pettersen said, “No, thank God.” Tseng had 27 birdies over four rounds at a very tight Locust Hill. She quickly has established herself as the best driver of the golf ball on tour – long and straight.
“She pushes the edges again like Annika used to it, and Lorena (Ochoa) used to do,” Pettersen said. “Now Yani is getting an edge on us, which I guess we’ve just got to keep up. I don’t know, try to get her down somehow.”
Said Kerr: “She is in the prime of her career . . . she has found her stride at a young age.”
Cindy LaCrosse had a front-seat view to Tseng’s impressive display and was glad she was there to watch it, calling Tseng’s play “inspiring.” When Tseng outdrove LaCrosse by 60 yards on the third hole, she knew it was going to be a long day.
“I need to keep reminding myself that it’s just my second major,” said LaCrosse, who won the Futures Tour money title last year. She struggled to 5 over on Sunday and finished tied for 14th.
Tseng has seven top 5s in 10 LPGA events this year and six victories worldwide. She started the year with four consecutive titles: Taifong Ladies Open, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, ANZ RACV Ladies Open and Honda LPGA Thailand.
“She’s certainly been stamping her foot on the rest of us,” Katherine Hull said. “Making her mark.”