Tseng's winning ways extend far beyond the ropes
ORLANDO, Fla. – Last night Yani Tseng did something almost unimaginable. She hosted a Thanksgiving dinner party – for the media.
Yani Tseng wins LPGA Taiwan Championship
Yani Tseng beat the field by five strokes, defeating Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz to win in her home country on Sunday.
This wasn’t a publicity stunt. Tseng didn’t do this to get more favorable press, though she’s going to get some in this space. Last night’s affair truly was an act of appreciation. For a year in which Tseng solidified her place as a history-maker in this game, Tseng gave thanks.
Did I mention the party was at her Lake Nona house? The night before the first round of the CME Group Titleholders, the season-ending event?
Truly extraordinary. When the invitation popped into my mailbox last week, I, like several others, presumed that players would be invited to this shindig and that media would try not to get in the way. It never occurred to this scribe that a player, particularly the World No. 1, would host something solely for her team and members of the LPGA communications staff and national print and broadcast media.
Rd. 3 of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
View more images of Yani Tseng and the 2011 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in Yang Mei, Taiwan.
Aiming to keep it a low-key affair, Tseng asked her caddie’s fiance, Katy Mullin, to whip up a few of her specialties. Mullin used to run her own restaurant in Tennessee, and the spread was savory. Tseng’s looper, Jason Hamilton, grilled steaks.
A conversation on theme parks led Tseng to run to her room to put on a Harry Potter costume. While wearing her black cape and black-rimmed glasses, she gave a short speech, expressing gratitude to those who have covered her accomplishments -- notably, 11 worldwide victories -- all season.
The party moved into the rec room, where a raucous game of pingpong broke out. Tseng took names at the pool table, using golf terminology to size up her game: “I double bogeyed.”
When someone asked Tseng about her Thursday morning tee time, Tseng told everyone not to worry about it. She was having fun.
Tseng’s trophy case looks vastly different than the last time Golfweek visited Tseng’s home, shortly after she bought it from Annika Sorenstam. Tseng pointed out the spot where the U.S. Women’s Open trophy goes, which remains empty. And she put an angry bird inside her Kraft Nabisco replica. (Yes, like the Angry Birds game that’s played on smart phones.)
“I didn’t win this year, so I put the angry bird in there,” Tseng said, laughing. The stuffed bird was a gift from a friend.
Tseng’s sense of humor was on full display Wednesday night, showing off how far the Taiwan native has come with her English.
“I can speak better with my coach and my caddie, and now we can fight,” Tseng said earlier in the press room. “Before when we fought, I always lost. But now with my English, I can fight with them. I can tell what's my side. I can tell them what I'm thinking.”
She can also make a roomful of people laugh.
As the party wrapped up, Tseng’s senior adviser, Ernie Huang, noted that hosting an event the night before the tournament's first round won’t hurt Tseng’s performance.
She’s too fun-loving to be serious all the time. Every sport should be so lucky.