Notes: Teens make a scene early in LPGA season
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Yani Tseng is old. Not really, but she concedes that it’s hard to see a younger generation come out and make a scene on the LPGA.
At 24, Tseng still is relatively fresh-faced, but a couple of kids have upstaged the No. 1 player in the Rolex Rankings early in the 2013 season.
Tseng thought playing competitor Lydia Ko might shoot a 59 in the opening round of last week's Women's Australian Open. Ko, fresh off a victory in New Zealand in her national open, eventually posted a 63.
“She is still 15," Tseng said, "but she doesn’t play like 15.”
Then last week in Thailand, 17-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn carried the weight of her nation around Siam Country Club, only to collapse with a triple bogey on the 72nd hole and give Inbee Park a one-shot victory. Two incredible teens, two near-misses.
Jutanugarn is back this week in Singapore, playing the HSBC Women’s Champions on a sponsor exemption. Ko, who still is an amateur, won’t return to the LPGA until the Kraft Nabisco Championship on April 4-7.
Tseng took off six weeks in the winter, traveling to the Philippines for some R&R. The time away seems to have left her refreshed as she opened the year with finishes of second and a tie for third, respectively. Terrific stretches each week suggest victory is near. There’s good reason she has been ranked No. 1 for 107 weeks.
• • •
A five-car pileup in Thailand put Ai Miyazato back on a plane to Japan this week. Miyazato withdrew from the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore on Wednesday after sustaining stiffness in her back, neck and shoulders. She was one of three players involved in the crash. Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen also were part of a caravan to the airport following the Honda LPGA Thailand event in Chonburi. Creamer skipped Wednesday’s pro-am but still hoped to compete in the tournament.
“It is also a precautionary measure so as not to risk further injury this early in the season,” Miyazato said.
Se Ri Pak also withdrew from Singapore after falling ill in Thailand.
• • •
Michelle Wie’s, er, unique putting posture has drawn curious looks on tour. The 6-foot star now bends from her waist at a 90-degree angle, giving her a closer view of the line.
“I was looking at like Jiyai Shin and Ai (Miyazato), and they all putt really well,” Wie said, “and the common factor there is they are all 5 feet tall. So I'm, like, maybe I'll just try and act like I'm 5 feet tall, get a little lower to the ground.”
Wie laughed at her comment, but her putting struggles are no joke.
Longtime instructor David Leadbetter expressed concern that the awkward posture would put too much strain on her back.
“Actually it makes me kind of rest a little bit in between putts now,” Wie said. “Definitely makes sure I won't stand over the ball for a long time.”
Wie missed the cut in Australia and finished 45th in Thailand.
• • •
Short shots: So Yeon Ryu skipped this week’s tournament to attend her graduation from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. … Jessica Korda turned 20 on Feb. 27 and to celebrate, a group of players went zip-lining in Singapore. “It was fun to just get away and go be kids for a couple hours,” said Stacy Lewis. … The LPGA will be playing a new course this week in Singapore, and it’s all about playing it smart. Lewis said Sentosa Golf Club will separate the best ball-strikers and the best caddies from the rest of the field. Wie agrees. “Over the last two days, I think I've hit one drive and probably won't do it again,” she said. “It's position golf.”