Taiwan’s world No. 1 Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) picked up her 12th title of the year at the Swinging Skirts TLPGA Invitational in New Taipei City (新北市) yesterday, capping a spectacular year in which she has dominated women’s golf.
Heading into the final day with a one-shot lead, Tseng posted a stellar final round of four-under 68 to win the tournament by seven shots ahead of Ryu So-yeon and Shin Ji-yai of South Korea.
“I’m very satisfied and happy,” Tseng said after winning the title. “I played steadily and I felt really great.”
Tseng carded three birdies in the first seven holes to open a four-shot lead over her closest pursuer, Amy Yang of South Korea, and when Yang imploded with a triple-bogey on the par-four ninth, the tournament was all but over.
Tseng’s 68 was the second-best round of the day, behind only Yoon Chae-young’s round of 67 that catapulted her up the leaderboard from 30th into a tie for ninth place.
Describing herself as a player who needs big crowds, Tseng expressed her gratitude to all the fans who had braved the cold and rainy conditions to watch her play.
“Seeing so many people to cheer for me in such poor weather really touched me,” she said. “The fans’ support means a lot to me, pushing me forward.”
Constant rain and chilly winds did not dampen the passion of the fans, who have brandished hand-made placards to root for their favorites.
Many LPGA stars were impressed.
World No. 7 Shin was quoted by local media as saying she would stay at home and watch the tournament on TV if she were a fan, while Paula Creamer of the US described those who walked the course following the players in such “crazy and terrible” weather as “incredible.”
To express her gratitude, Tseng handed out “hot hands” to fans during the tournament’s final two days to help them keep their hands warm.
She also used her Facebook page to urge fans heading to the event to wear warm clothing.
The 22-year-old Tseng, who finished the 54-hole event with a six-under 210 total, was the only golfer in the 83-player field to finish the tournament under par. Most of the field struggled with the blustery conditions at the Miramar Golf and Country Club, with only four under-par rounds being shot on the first two days and only 10 being shot on a slightly more mild final day.
The victory only highlighted Tseng’s dominance of women’s golf this year, in which she has held the No. 1 ranking for 43 consecutive weeks and has the second-highest annual winnings in the LPGA Tour’s history.
She started the year by winning her first four events — defending her title at the TLPGA Taifong Ladies Open in January and then in February capturing two European Tour events in Australia and the year’s first LPGA event in Thailand. She has since won another seven tournaments, including two major championships — the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open — before taking the Swinging Skirts title.
Although the invitational allowed Tseng to push her winnings this year to more than US$3.4 million, she said she was happier with the number of wins than the prize money she had earned.