5 Things: Tseng picks up her 15th career title

Yani Tseng hits her tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Kia Classic.

Yani Tseng hits her tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Kia Classic.

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Yani Tseng knows the drill. She won for the third time in five events this year on the LPGA but was upstaged three time zones away by Tiger Woods. Within the span of an hour, Yani won by six at the Kia LPGA Classic, and Tiger won by five at Bay Hill.

“He’s probably going to be on the cover,” Tseng said, referring to, well, every publication.

Tseng said it with a smile. In fact, she knows that Suzann Pettersen practices with Woods from time to time, and she let it be known that she’d love to tag along one day. Tseng and Woods have never met.

Tiger Woods won his 15th PGA Tour title at 23 years, 10 months and 7 days. Tseng won her 15th at 23 years, two months and two days.

Tseng three-putted her 72nd hole and made bogey but finished at 14 under to win with ease over Sun Young Yoo. Tseng closed with a 70, her highest round of the week at La Costa. She’s comfortable. She’s happy. And she gets stronger each week.

“I'm just really happy for what I've done for the day and just being patient and playing smart today,” Tseng said. “I'm having so much fun.”

• • •

1. BEYOND HER YEARS: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Yani Tseng’s dominance is her age. At 23 years, two months and two days she has won 15 times on the LPGA. Here’s a look at how that stacks up against some of the all-time greats at that age:

Kathy Whitworth, 2 wins (88 career titles)

Mickey Wright, 5 (82 career)

Annika Sorenstam, 0 (72)

Nancy Lopez, 17 (48)

Karrie Webb, 8 (38)

Lorena Ochoa, 2 (27)

Se Ri Pak, 8 (25)

• • •

2. CALL OF THE HALL: Tseng needs only four more points and 10 years of service to qualify for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. A major victory gets her two points and non-majors are good for one. There’s a good chance she’ll have that wrapped up by the summer’s end.

Karrie Webb earned her 27th point in July of 2000 at 25 years, 7 months and 2 days.

3. SUNDAY FUN-DAY: How good is Tseng when it counts? Her final-round scoring average going into today’s round was 69.25. Her final-round scoring average in 2011: 69. And the most telling number: Tseng’s final-round scoring average in her seven victories last year was 67.14.

She’s not backing down.

• • •

4. LOOKING AHEAD: Tseng heads to the Kraft Nabisco Championship next week for the fifth time in her career. Her results to date in Rancho Mirage: T-21/T-17/1st/2nd.

Tseng has won four of the last eight majors she has played. She needs 10 more majors to tie Patty Berg atop the all-time majors list at 15. At this point, that seems doable. And while it’s extremely hard to compare eras, there’s no question that Tseng is dominating at a time when fields are exponentially deeper than they were in Berg’s time.

• • •

5. LOOKING BACK: In the beginning, Tseng couldn’t hold a lead. In 2008 and ’09, she went 0-4 in tournaments in which she was leading or co-leading going into Sunday. She’s now 7-for-8 in that category, her only loss coming last year to Stacy Lewis at the Kraft Nabisco.

“I was very, very close last year,” Tseng said. “But when I look back, I was very happy that I didn't win because that's why I'm learning. If you keep winning, you don't know what you're going to learn.”

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