Tseng sets record with four major wins

‘CRAZY FOR YOU’::President Ma Ying-jeou lauded Yani Tseng for playing so well and for her humility, while Premier Wu Den-yih described her as ‘Taiwan’s pride’

Staff Writer, with CNA and AP, PITTSFORD, NEW YORK

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 - Page 1

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.”

Wearing a smile for much of the day, Tseng raised her arms and tipped her hat as she was greeted by the gallery upon arriving at the 18th green.

In winning her second LPGA Championship, she moved into joint 15th among women with four majors, joining a group of six others, including Laura Davies and Meg Mallon.

By comparison, Annika Sorenstam was 24 when she won the first of her 10 majors — the 1995 US Open. Patty Berg was 23 when she won her fourth major in 1941, but before the LPGA was formed in 1950. Tseng is also ahead of Tiger Woods, who did not win his first major until he was 24.

Men or women, Tseng’s performance drew comparisons to Rory McIlroy, given that the up-and-coming Northern Irish star is also 22 and he won last week’s US Open by eight strokes.

Tseng went start to finish as the tournament leader after opening with rounds of 66, 70 and 67. In holding one-shot leads after each of the first two rounds, Tseng began running away from the field on Saturday when she built a five-shot lead.

It’s a lead she doubled by the time she made the turn on Sunday.

The only hiccup for Tseng came on the opening hole. She pulled her tee shot into the left rough, appearing to be bothered by the click of a shutter of a photographer standing behind her. Then Tseng had to wait five minutes to stew over her ball as Pressel sought a ruling from an official to move her ball because a sprinkler was affecting her stance just off the first green.

Tseng landed her second shot just outside the ropes in the gallery and, with the rattling noise of a freight train nearby, she settled for a bogey five.

With that out of the way, Tseng proceeded to burn up the course, starting at the second where she landed her approach shot to within two feet of the pin. That began a run of Tseng scoring birdies on five of her next seven holes. Tseng added three more birdies on the back nine, while bogeying 13.

She had a chance to get to 20-under, but she missed a 12-foot birdie putt on 18.

Tseng finished with 27 birdies, six bogeys and a double-bogey. She hit 38 of 56 fairways and 57 of 72 greens in regulation. No one else was close.

Tseng’s playing partner, Cindy LaCrosse, unraveled. She was five-over to tumble to tied 14th place.

Pettersen had the best round among those at the top of the leaderboard, getting to nine-under before a bogey on 18.

Tseng’s first LPGA Championship came during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland.

Sarah Kemp shot even-par 72 in a round that featured her acing the 161-yard fifth. It was the 14th hole-in-one in the Rochester tournament’s 35-year history and the first since Kang Soo-yun did it on the seventh in 2008.

“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.”

Wearing a smile for much of the day, Tseng raised her arms and tipped her hat as she was greeted by the gallery upon arriving at the 18th green.

In winning her second LPGA Championship, she moved into joint 15th among women with four majors, joining a group of six others, including Laura Davies and Meg Mallon.

By comparison, Annika Sorenstam was 24 when she won the first of her 10 majors — the 1995 US Open. Patty Berg was 23 when she won her fourth major in 1941, but before the LPGA was formed in 1950. Tseng is also ahead of Tiger Woods, who did not win his first major until he was 24.

Men or women, Tseng’s performance drew comparisons to Rory McIlroy, given that the up-and-coming Northern Irish star is also 22 and he won last week’s US Open by eight strokes.

Tseng went start to finish as the tournament leader after opening with rounds of 66, 70 and 67. In holding one-shot leads after each of the first two rounds, Tseng began running away from the field on Saturday when she built a five-shot lead.

It’s a lead she doubled by the time she made the turn on Sunday.

The only hiccup for Tseng came on the opening hole. She pulled her tee shot into the left rough, appearing to be bothered by the click of a shutter of a photographer standing behind her. Then Tseng had to wait five minutes to stew over her ball as Pressel sought a ruling from an official to move her ball because a sprinkler was affecting her stance just off the first green.

Tseng landed her second shot just outside the ropes in the gallery and, with the rattling noise of a freight train nearby, she settled for a bogey five.

With that out of the way, Tseng proceeded to burn up the course, starting at the second where she landed her approach shot to within two feet of the pin. That began a run of Tseng scoring birdies on five of her next seven holes. Tseng added three more birdies on the back nine, while bogeying 13.

She had a chance to get to 20-under, but she missed a 12-foot birdie putt on 18.

Tseng finished with 27 birdies, six bogeys and a double-bogey. She hit 38 of 56 fairways and 57 of 72 greens in regulation. No one else was close.

Tseng’s playing partner, Cindy LaCrosse, unraveled. She was five-over to tumble to tied 14th place.

Pettersen had the best round among those at the top of the leaderboard, getting to nine-under before a bogey on 18.

Tseng’s first LPGA Championship came during her rookie-of-the-year season in 2008, when the event was played at Bulle Rock in Maryland.

Sarah Kemp shot even-par 72 in a round that featured her acing the 161-yard fifth. It was the 14th hole-in-one in the Rochester tournament’s 35-year history and the first since Kang Soo-yun did it on the seventh in 2008.