Tseng sets record in LPGA Championship romp
PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Yani Tseng left no doubt she’s the best female player in the world, running away with the LPGA Championship by 10 strokes Sunday and, at 22, becoming the youngest to win four LPGA majors.
The top-ranked Tseng closed with a 6-under 66 to finish 19-under 269 at Locust Hill Country Club, matching the LPGA record low score at a major in winning $375,000 at the $2.5 million event. And her dominating performance came a year after Cristie Kerr shot the same score to win the tournament by a whopping 12 strokes.
Dottie Pepper (1999 Kraft Nabisco) and Karen Stupples (2004 Women’s British Open) also finished at 19 under.
Tseng bettered Se Ri Pak, who was 24 when she won her fourth major. For the star from Taiwan, it was her eighth career LPGA Tour victory, second in a row and third of the season. She has three other victories this year, sweeping the Australian Open and Masters and winning in Taiwan.
Morgan Pressel (71) finished second. Kerr (69), Suzann Pettersen (67) and Paula Creamer (69) tied for third at 8 under.
“Yani’s doing what I did last year. Obviously, it’s hard to beat,” said Kerr, who rallied late with a birdie on No. 16 and an eagle on 17. “I’m not surprised. Yani’s a great player. She’s in the prime of her career. She’s found her stride at a young age.”
Wearing a smile for much of the day, Tseng raised her arms and tipped her hat as she was greeted by the gallery upon arriving at the 18th green.
In winning her second LPGA Championship, she moved into a tie for 15th among women with four majors, joining a group of six others, including Laura Davies and Meg Mallon.
By comparison, Annika Sorenstam was 24 when she won the first of her 10 majors — the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open. Patty Berg was 23 when she won her fourth major in 1941, but before the LPGA was formed in 1950. Tseng’s also ahead of Tiger Woods, who didn’t win his fourth major until he was 24.
Men or women, Tseng’s performance drew comparisons to Rory McIlroy, given that the up-and-coming Northern Irish star is also 22 and won last week’s U.S. Open by eight strokes.
Tseng went wire-to-wire as the tournament leader after opening with rounds of 66, 70 and 67. In holding one-shot leads after each of the first two rounds, Tseng began running away from the field on Saturday in building a five-shot edge.
It’s a lead she doubled by the time she made the turn Sunday.
The only hiccup for Tseng came during a what-else-can-go-wrong opening hole. She pulled her tee shot into the left rough, appearing to be bothered by the click of a shutter of a photographer standing behind her. Then Tseng had to wait five minutes to stew over her ball as Pressel sought a ruling from an official to move her ball because a sprinkler was affecting her stance just off the first green.
Tseng landed her second shot just outside the ropes in the gallery and, with the rattling noise of a freight train nearby, she settled for a bogey 5.
With that out of the way, Tseng proceeded to burn up the course, starting at No. 2, where she landed her approach shot to within two feet of the pin. That began a run of Tseng scoring birdies on five of her next seven holes. Tseng added three more birdies on the back nine, while bogeying 13.
She had a chance to get to 20 under, but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
Tseng finished with 27 birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. She hit 38 of 56 fairways and 57 of 72 greens in regulation.
No one else was close. Tseng’s playing partner, Cindy LaCrosse, unraveled. She was 5 over on Sunday to tumble into 14th.
Pettersen had the best round among those at the top of the leaderboard, getting to 9 under for the tournament before a bogey on No. 18.
Tseng’s first LPGA Championship came during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland. She’s won three of the past six majors after taking the Kraft Nabisco and Women’s British Open last year.
Missing only a U.S. Open title victory, Tseng will have an opportunity to complete her career slam in two weeks at Colorado Springs, Colo.
Sarah Kemp shot even-par 72 in a round that featured her acing the 161-yard No. 5. It was the 14th hole in one in the Rochester tournament’s 35-year history, and first since Soo-Yun Kang did it on No. 7 in 2008.
Stupples had the day’s low round of 65, which vaulted her into a tie for 34th at 1-over 289 for the tournament.