Top-ranked Yani Tseng is counting on hometown advantage in the Taiwan Championship this week to win her first tournament since March.
Tseng’s success, including two majors each in 2010 and last year, helped Taiwan land its first US LPGA Tour event, and she won the inaugural event last year by five strokes. She would not mind if the second tournament, starting tomorrow at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Yang Mei, Taoyuan County, near the northwest coast, comes with more than a breeze.
“The stronger the wind, the better I play,” she quipped yesterday.
Tseng grew up in the area.
After winning three of her first five tournaments this year, her struggles, more mental than technical, are well known. However, the US LPGA Tour’s return to Asia this month has also seen a lift in her confidence, and results.
In the Sime Darby Malaysia two weeks ago, she was eased by the appearance of her coach, Gary Gilchrist, and felt positive about a tie for 49th. Her mother and sister were on hand in South Korea last week to provide more good vibes as she finished third, one stroke out of a playoff in the HanaBank Championship. It was her first top 10 in 12 starts since June.
Last year, Tseng fed off the support of 67,000 mainly Taiwanese fans at Sunrise, and another big crowd is expected to follow one of the nation’s few sports superstars.
“She went through a summer where she didn’t win every tournament, which was sort of strange,” US LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan said.
Raised on golf since she was five, Tseng speaks modestly about her wins, despite what experts call a technically flawless swing.
“I don’t think Yani’s game is declining as much as there’s so much robust competition and rising young stars,” said Larry DeGaris, the academic sports marketing program director at the University of Indianapolis.