5 Things: No. 1 Tseng wins LPGA Thailand

Yani Tseng celebrates her victory at the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on February 19, 2012.

Yani Tseng celebrates her victory at the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on February 19, 2012.

Five things you need to know about Yani Tseng’s win at the Honda LPGA Thailand:

1. That was quick: It didn’t take long for World No. 1 Yani Tseng to regain the form that helped her win 12 events worldwide last year. Tseng won LPGA start No. 2 of the year, finishing one shot ahead of Ai Miyazato at the Honda LPGA Thailand.

After a stomach bug plagued Tseng in Australia for the start of the season -- and big numbers plagued her scorecard on the challenging Royal Melbourne layout -- Tseng came back to shoot 19-under 269 at Siam Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand. Last week, a triple bogey at the fourth effectively ended her hopes of falling into a six-woman playoff for the Women’s Australian Open title. But down the stretch in Chonburi, Tseng excelled. She birdied No. 17 to pull out of a tie with Jiyai Shin, then knocked her 104-yard approach shot at the 18th to tap-in birdie range to finish the day with a 66 and finish one shot ahead of Miyazato for the week.

“It was an incredible shot. I think it’s the shot of the week,” Tseng said. “Especially I saw that Ai hit it so close and I knew she was going to make that putt. So I tell myself I need to get this close.”

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2. Putting it in perspective: Even the world’s best get a little stressed out sometimes. After winning the tournament, Tseng got noticeably teary on the 18th green. When asked later about those tears, the 23-year-old said, “I feel much more pressure coming into this year. Last year when I started, I was nothing, I was just in the top 5 in the world but I don’t have 12 wins or World No. 1 title. After last year, I have World No. 1 and I had 12 wins and that pressure keep going on and on. I kind of drive my team crazy. They were thinking I feel so much pressure. So sometimes I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t quite nice to them.”

Here’s something of an unbelievable stat for a player with so many wins: The Honda Thailand is only the second time in Tseng’s career that she has successfully defended an LPGA title. She also defended her title at last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open.

3. Chasing Yani: Two years ago, Ai Miyazato was the woman with a target on her back early in the season after she became the first player in 44 years to win back-to-back season opening titles.

Miyazato won three more times that season, but won only once in 2011 -- at the Evian Masters. Though it’s not a win, Miyazato still likes the momentum a runner-up finish gives her, especially when that No. 2 finish is behind Tseng. Miyazato says it’s a tough chase when she’s in the lead.

“Especially knowing she started with an eagle and after five holes she was 5 under. I kind of expected this,” Miyazato said. “Of course Yani is No. 1 so I knew it wouldn’t be easy today. I kind of expected her to play that way so I was ready.”

4. How about those amateurs? For those junior golf fans waiting for Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn to resurface, both teed it up in Chonburi. The girls had the rare opportunity to play on something like home turf as Siam Country Club is near their home in Bangkok -- well, much nearer than anywhere they would play in the U.S.

Both players received sponsor exemptions into the event. Moriya, 17, shot 3-over 291 to finish T-44 while Ariya, 16, was at 7-under 281.

Though impressive, that’s not even Ariya’s best finish -- her T-8 here last year kick-started a season during which she would be low amateur at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, win the U.S. Junior and Junior PGA Championships and garner Rolex Player of the Year honors.

5. Lexi lurking: No headlines to speak of yet for the 16-year-old, who starts this year with two wins on her resume, but still take note of her results so far this season.

Thompson started the year at the Australian Ladies Masters and finished T-15. She was T-24 last week at Royal Melbourne, the LPGA season opener, and improved to T-14 this week. Though now an official LPGA tour member, Thompson says things don’t feel any different.

“I’m playing the same way but I’m really happy with the way I’m hitting it,” she said. “I’m playing consistent. Just get a few more of those putts to drop like today and I can shoot a few rounds but I’m happy with the way I’ve played in my three tournaments so far this year.”

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