Notes: Tseng closing in on 3rd title in 5 events
CARLSBAD, Calif. – Yani Tseng thought “the ducks” must be trained. The coots, dozens of them, somehow managed to stay off the green. That is, until No. 17. How odd to hit into a green covered with birdies – literally.
“I said, ‘I think I'm going to hit the birds, and I don't want that,’ ” Tseng said. “Is there any way the birds can go away?”
She made par. Apparently only birds can stop her. Tseng carded a bogey-free 69 on Saturday at the Kia LPGA Classic to take a three-stroke lead over Jiyai Shin. Tseng has broken the 70 barrier in eight of the last nine rounds.
Bad weather is expected to roll in on Sunday, so officials have moved up the tee times at LaCosta Resort and Spa. After playing in cold, rain and hail last Sunday – and winning – Tseng fears nothing.
“I like the wind and the rain,” she said. “When we played the British Open, it’s always like that.”
As most of the golf world turns its attention to the re-emergence of Tiger Woods at Bay Hill, the hottest player in the game is quietly padding her resume. Tseng is on target to win for the third time in five events this year. How effortless is she making it look?
Consider that on the 18th hole Saturday, her drive bounced down a cart path and over a bridge, landing safely on the other side, close to another large flock of coots. Unlike Woods, who hit an errant drive after a woman yelled in his backswing, she’s both lucky and good at the moment.
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FUN AND GAMES: There are athletes and there are mechanics. One look at Alison Walshe and it’s obvious that she belongs in the first category. She was never a student of the game. Show her the ball, show her the hole and she’ll find a way to get it done.
There was a short period of time as a professional when Walshe started to learn about planes and paths and angles, and it messed with her mind. Instructor Gary Gilchrist helped her remember what it felt like to play like an athlete, and the runner has found her stride.
“There’s no need for me to be technical,” said Walshe, who is T-6 going into the final round.
Two years ago, Walshe moved to south Florida and joined The Medalist, where she often finds herself playing money games with the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jeff Sluman, Hank Kuehne and James Driscoll. She sees Woods often and described him as “super personable.”
Walshe is one of four LPGA members who play out of Medalist, joining Stacy Lewis, Belen Mozo and Meaghan Francella. All the pros – men and women – enjoy the laid-back atmosphere that the club provides, and everybody plays with everybody. It’s not unusual for an eightsome to play a game of wolf.
“The money circles around,” she said.
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WALK THE WALK: Jiyai Shin enjoyed her time with Caroline Hedwall, but she wanted to spend Sunday with Tseng.
“I focused more on the 17th for a birdie,” Shin said, “because I know if I make that putt, I play with Yani for tomorrow.”
Shin, an eight-time winner on the LPGA, said she spent part of the offseason working on her walk. She felt she looked tired and flat last year.
Nothing like a Sunday stroll with Tseng to get the juices flowing.