Taiwan’s Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) has become the youngest player to claim four LPGA Tour majors, underlining her recent domination of the women’s tour by winning the LPGA Championship with a record-equaling low score at a major on Sunday.
The 22-year-old Tseng closed with a six-under 66 to win by 10 strokes, finishing at 19-under 269 at Locust Hill Country Club. Her triumph came a year after Cristie Kerr shot the same score to win the tournament by 12 strokes. Dottie Pepper (1999 Kraft Nabisco) and Karen Stupples (2004 British Open) have also finished majors at 19-under.
In terms of majors, world No. 1 Tseng beat the mark set by South Korea’s Pak Se-ri, who was 24 when she won her fourth major. For the Taiwanese star, it was her eighth career LPGA Tour victory, her second in a row and the third of the season. She has three other victories this year, sweeping the Australian Open and ANZ Australian Ladies Masters, and winning an event in Taiwan.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) congratulated Tseng yesterday, saying the whole country was “crazy” about her.
Ma made a telephone call to the top-ranked player in the US yesterday morning, telling her “you played so well” and that “everyone in Taiwan is crazy about you,” according to Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi.
Tseng’s outstanding performance will greatly boost Taiwan’s prospects in the inaugural LPGA Taiwan tournament in October, Ma was quoted as saying. Tseng’s most important characteristic is the humble attitude she maintains despite her achievements at such a young age, the president said.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who will run alongside Ma on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) ticket in next year’s presidential election, also called Tseng to congratulate her, saying that she was “Taiwan’s pride.”
Tseng’s fellow Taiwanese players also finished strongly on Sunday, with Amy Hung’s (洪沁慧) final-round 70 giving her a share of 14th place on three-under 285, while Candie Kung (龔怡萍) was a further shot back after a 73, tied for 20th.
Morgan Pressel (71) finished second, while Kerr (69), Suzann Pettersen (67) and Paula Creamer (69) were tied for third on eight-under.
Tseng was not satisfied with merely winning the LPGA Championship, though. Once she made the turn to the back nine with a 10-stroke lead, she set her sights on making a little more history.
“I was like: ‘What’s a new goal for me?’ and that’s why I told myself I wanted to set a record, to make 20-under,” Tseng said.
She missed by one stroke in what was the only minor blemish of her round.
“It’s very special,” Tseng said. “Now I’m thinking about a Grand Slam.”
It’s one step at a time for the world No. 1, who won her second LPGA Championship and has won three of the tour’s last six majors. The only major she is missing is the US Open title and she will have an opportunity to complete her career Grand Slam in two weeks at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“Pretty unbelievable,” said Kerr, who rallied late with a birdie on 16 and an eagle on 17. “Yani’s doing what I did last year. Obviously, it’s hard to beat. I’m not surprised. Yani’s a great player.”
Pressel initially thought she would have an outside chance of catching Tseng before the final round began. Pressel dropped that hope once she dropped a shot with a bogey on the second.
“It’s definitely a dominating performance,” Pressel said. “She didn’t make many mistakes out there.”