Notes: Tseng learning to smile on the course

Yani Tseng during the final round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Yani Tseng delivered a line today that every golfer should etch in the yardage book: “My coach (Gary Gilchrist) told me if you smile to the game, the game will smile to you.”

Tseng makes an effort to smile. It’s a natural thing for her outside the ropes, but in a somewhat maddening game of inches, a smile can be difficult to maintain in the heat of battle.

“I think I just try too hard to be perfect,” said Tseng, on the eve of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. She won here by 10 strokes last year.

On Tuesday morning, Tseng hooked a drive left into the trees on No. 18 and put her head down in frustration. She played nine holes and hit only two fairways. The rough is extra thick this year at Locust Hill Country Club, placing a premium on accuracy. An afternoon downpour on Wednesday, mixed with hail, makes it even softer heading into the first round.

Tseng said the problem isn’t her swing, but rather her balance. She worked with her trainer to loosen the right hip and planned to add more cardio to her routine this week. She’ll need to get that straightened out to contend.

Last year Tseng’s performance was so dominating that her win on Sunday was a foregone conclusion. She broke records that day, but walked away most impressed by the Rochester fans.

“I know I’m not American,” Tseng siad. “It was a long way, but everybody on Sunday, they all stand up on the 18th hole to cheer for me, clap for me. That was very emotional.”

• • •

IN PRIME POSITION: Stacy Lewis’ instructor, Joe Hallett, is here in New York taking video of Lewis’ swing, but not because she needs to fix anything. Quite the contrary. He’s here to document her action so they have it down the road. It’s obviously worth repeating.

“I’m speechless,” said Hallett of Lewis’ recent play. Anyone who knows Hallett understands that’s exceptionally rare.

Lewis’ story of overcoming scoliosis follows her everywhere she goes. On the one hand, Lewis wants to inspire as many people as possible. On the other hand, she wants to move past it.

“I want them to see that I’m more than just a great story,” Lewis said.

Indeed, she’s now a three-time winner on this tour and a favorite going into the majors. Her game and mind are built for tough conditions. So far the 27-year-old has one – the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship – to her credit.

“I think careers are made,” Lewis said, “on major wins.”

Lewis believes this course sets itself up for someone to run away with the title (i.e. the last two years).

“If you’re driving it straight and making putts,” Lewis said, “you are going too lap the field here.”

No one is in better position to do it.

• • •

GOOD OMEN? Cristie Kerr’s pro-am group quit her on the 17th hole. They had a plane to catch, and they had endured a wet round. The last time a group packed it in on Kerr was at Locust Hill in 2010, and she went on to blow away the field by 12 shots that week.

“Maybe that’s good luck for me,” Kerr cracked.

Kerr was recently surpassed by Lewis as the top-ranked American, and she is using that as added motivation. She hasn’t triumphed on the LPGA since winning here two years ago.

“It does fire me up,” Kerr said. “I don’t like it.”

• • •

GOING SOCIAL: The LPGA debuted caddie bibs that feature players’ Twitter handles this week. Several players already had theirs on display during today’s pro-am. There was one minor early glitch: Suzann Pettersen Tweeted a photo of her bib that featured a misspelling in her surname. A corrected one is being shipped to Locust Hill.

Ninety-three players in this week’s field have a Twitter account, though some are more active than others. World No. 1 Tseng is more into Facebook than Twitter. Of the top 10 in the world, Lewis and Pettersen are the most active.

Some of the more entertaining accounts belong to Sophie Gustafson, Karen Stupples, Brittany Lincicome, Jane Park and Paige Mackenzie.

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