Yani Tseng has dominated the LPGA this season — at least at the majors, where she’s won two of them, the Kraft Nabisco Open and the British Women’s Open. The Taiwan-born Yani made four birdies in a pivotal five-hole stretch to shoot 6-under 65 on Sunday and to best 54-hole leader Michelle Wie by one shot for the Northwest Arkansas Championship.
This victory marked Yani’s third of the season and her first non-major. She admitted indifference to winning before she started her round, but willed herself into playing for the win. Call it a kick of self-motivation in the arse at the halfway house.
“I feel like my heart is not fighting, I didn’t feel like, oh, I really want to win this tournament,” said Yani. “So after 9 holes I just write a lot of things on my yardage book, just like, oh, I can do this, just talk to the ball and whatever you can do, just feel like you really, really want to win this tournament. So I thought it was good on the back 9, but my hand was still shaking, I was really, really nervous. Every time I win, I’m so nervous.”
“Yani played great,” Wie said. “Usually, if you’re 12 under, it’s good enough. I played good today. I had faith in myself, a couple iron shots went a little bit left today.”
Wie scrambled for pars while Yani drained birdies. Wie fell two strokes back after a bogey on 16, but she rallied back with a birdie on 17 to creep back within one shot going into 18.
“I had a fun time,” said a weary Stanford student after her round. “I’m ready for a little break right now, but this is great.”
By break, she means from golf and returning to classes at Stanford.
Meanwhile, with Michelle’s last two starts resulting in a win and runner-up, it appears she’s found some consistency for the first time since…it was so long ago I can’t even remember. But perhaps more important, Tseng is now the front-runner for Player of the Year honors.
It sure would be fun to watch Tseng and Wie contend and battle more often. I have a feeling that Sunday won’t be the last time. And before I forget, one of the main complaints from readers on the whole too-many-Asians-in-the-LPGA thing was that there are so many different ones winning every week and it’s hard to keep their names straight. So, I started the series “Know Your Asians” to help out.
Now I think most people are definitely familiar with Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie. Probably Ai Miyazato and Jiyai Shin, too. You see, it’s not so hard!