World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan playing a men’s tournament is one of the 10 things an ESPN columnist said he wanted to see in the golf world next year.
While playing in a men’s tournament “would not be without risk” for Tseng, it could be of tremendous benefit for her “if she uses the opportunity in similar fashion to the way Annika Sorenstam did in 2003,” ESPN golf columnist Bob Harig wrote in a recent column. “There were plenty of skeptics when Sorenstam tried it at the Colonial, but she acquitted herself quite well.”
Sorenstam carded a five-over 145 in the first two rounds of the event, leaving her 96th in the 111-player field in the tournament.
Photo: Pichi Chuang,Reuters
Although Sorenstam missed the cut, she gained a multitude of admirers, Harig wrote.
“It brought new fans to women’s golf and to Sorenstam, and helped her game immensely,” he wrote.
Noting that the 22-year-old won 12 tournaments worldwide this year and that she already has five major titles, Harig suggested: “Let her have a go at the men and see how she fares.”
The idea of Tseng playing in a USPGA Tour event was floated for the first time last month when the Puerto Rico Open said it would offer Tseng an exemption for the March 8 to March 11 tournament.
While Tseng had said that if the opportunity presented itself, she would like to play in a USPGA tournament to learn more from male golfers, she eventually turned down the offer through her adviser Ernie Huang.
Huang said in a statement at the time that Tseng had more goals to accomplish, such as completing a career Grand Slam and qualifying for the Hall of Fame.
“To play on the USPGA Tour now would be too much of a distraction for her,” Huang said, adding that Tseng was still interested in playing in a men’s event, but not in the near future.
Meanwhile, Tseng’s spectacular performance headed Golfweek’s top 10 LPGA stories of the year.
The top headline was “LPGA crowns new dominant player in Tseng,” with Golfweek writer Beth Ann Baldry calling this year the “Year of Yani.”
“Twelve wins worldwide ... including two LPGA majors and a runner-up at the Kraft Nabisco, for Yani Tseng. She led nearly every statistical category and topped the money list — all the while, improving her English,” Baldry wrote.
Tseng’s victory in Taiwan’s first-ever LPGA event earned a separate spot on the top 10 list because of the unprecedented crowds the tournament drew.
“The scene in Tseng’s homeland was extraordinary. It seemed that almost every fan who climbed the mountain at Sunrise Golf & Country Club walked 18 holes with Tseng. The crowds were so dense that rules officials had to get out of their carts and jog to rulings,” Baldry wrote. “Taiwan set a record Thursday [Oct. 20] for attendance at any professional golf event, with nearly 12,000 spectators. Organizers say 28,000 were there on Sunday [Oct. 23]. Tseng is a genuine rock star.”
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