August 21, 2011
Tseng on path to greatness
By Ian Hutchinson, Special to QMI Agency
TORONTO - The No. 1 player in the world has a particular affinity for Canada at the age of 22 and don't even think of pointing out that Rory McIlroy isn't on top of the world rankings.
In the case of Yani Tseng, that lofty perch atop the women's world rankings is a no-brainer with five LPGA Tour major championships in her collection, including two this year, at the same age as McIlroy, who she watched briefly at one program in the Palm Springs area as a young teen.
"We practised together for about two weeks. That was a long time ago, about seven or eight years ago. We were young and I didn't even know how to speak English, so I didn't talk to him much," said Tseng, who will be at this week's CN Canadian Women's Open at Hillsdale Golf and Country Club in Mirabel, Que.
She's upped her game off the course since then after taking English lessons, which she plans to continue. The person who has emerged is gregarious and giggly, even when she's reaching for the correct English word, but she has a way to go to reach the recognition of McIlroy.
Back home in Taiwan, it's a different story. Tseng went home after her victory at last month's Women's British Open and spent a couple of weeks before returning to play in last week's Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore.
"More people recognize me (in Taiwan). They say: 'Congratulations,' or 'keep working hard.' They cheer for me, support me. It's fun to have other people recognize you and to know that people are always watching you," Tseng said.
That will slowly happen in North America as she assaults the LPGA Tour record books. Already the youngest person, male or female, to win five majors, Tseng is halfway to the 10 majors won by icon Annika Sorenstam, who she purchased a house from in the Lake Nona area, near Orlando.
"This is a beautiful house. I love the house, especially that it's Annika's house. Even now I'm still nervous about talking to her. She's still my idol," said Tseng, despite her meteoric rise since turning pro in 2007, when one of her first pro wins came at a CN Canadian Women's Tour event in Vancouver.
"It's very special that I won that tournament to get in the (Canadian Women's) Open. That was the first time I played an LPGA tournament as a professional," said Tseng, who tied for sixth. "It gave me lots of good experience to go to Q-school that year."
Her career has taken off since then with 2008 rookie of the year and 2010 player of the year honours to go with nine career tour wins that keep the hardware coming into a house in Orlando where the previous owner was known to do the same.
"Day by day, I do the best I can every day, every tournament, every shot. That's all I can do, so I'm not putting any expectations on myself -- just have fun and enjoy," she said.
Diminutive World Golf Hall of Fame member Marlene Streit would have to shinny up a belly putter just to use one. I recently played golf with her and Gary Cowan, another member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, and smiled when Streit pulled her beat-up Old Faithful putter that she's been using for decades. The success of this amateur legend and her dedication to her putter belies the quick fix aura that the media has created around belly putters due to the success of Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship and Adam Scott at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Nobody mentions how many majors have been won by conventional putters "¦ The relatively close proximity of the CN Canadian Women's Open in Montreal and no events scheduled immediately afterwards on either the LPGA and Futures Tours is paying dividends for next week's PGA of Canada Women's Championship at Bayview Golf and Country Club in Thornhill. After Lorie Kane signed on to play the Bayview event, LPGA players such as Hamilton's Alena Sharp, Stephanie Sherlock of Barrie and Sam Richdale of Kelowna, B.C., as well as Oakville's Jessica Shepley, who recently won on the Futures Tour, have also confirmed.
U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is taking a massive gamble if he selects Tiger Woods with a captain's pick. It's clear that Woods made a mistake in coming back too early and there are no guarantees that his head or swing will be where they need to be by November. Do you leave somebody like Bradley, likely the rookie of the year, or Rickie Fowler off the roster in favour of Woods? On the other hand, when Mike Weir was named to the 2007 International team by Gary Player, it turned him around after earlier struggles that year.. The same holds true of Scott when Greg Norman named him to the team in 2009. This will be a red-hot debate, no matter which way Couples goes "¦ Agent Chubby Chandler didn't have one of his players win the fourth major of the year, so talk of a "Chubby Slam" was premature. Now, that the Chubby Slam name is up for grabs, does Cialis, with all of its advertising on the PGA Championship television coverage, see the value in that name for its marketing purposes? Just saying.