Considering Yani Tseng is the youngest player in history to win four major championships, she doesn’t have the best US Women’s Open record: two MCs, T42 and T10. It’s the only major to elude her so far, and just a few weeks after wiping away the field by ten shots at the LPGA Championship, Yani seeks to add the last one to complete the career grand slam this week at Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
Usually, she feels daunted by the challenges of a US Open, but guess who has helped inspire her? Rory McIlroy.
“I feel less pressure this week than before,” said Yani in her pre-tournament presser on Tuesday. “I always feel so much pressure on U.S. Open course. It’s so tough, tough golf course.
“But after I see Rory McIlroy do it I feel much relaxed. I mean, the course, you still can beat a course. You just got to come out here and have fun, enjoy the pressure and enjoy the big crowds.”
Over a bottle of wine a few days ago, Yani chatted with her idol, Annika Sorenstam, and asked if she was putting too much pressure on herself.
“(Annika) said, ‘No, if you just play the same as last week, then you’re gonna win this week,’ said Yani, quoting Annika. “She told me she enjoys watching me play, and that made me feel lots of confidence.
“She said, ‘You know, just like last week: smile always and be good body language, and then be aggressive. That’s how you are. You will really enjoy this week.'”
Recently, Annika said Yani was the new face of women’s golf — a huge compliment coming from her predecessor.
“I’m very happy, because she’s my role model,” said Yani. “She’s like my big idol. I wish I can — you know in the future I want to be like her. She’s done so many great things for the golf. And it’s not just for golf. Even outside role for lots of charity and everything. She’s very, very nice and classic player.
“So when she comment, I feel lots of confidence for myself. I don’t feel any pressure.”
This isn’t the first time Annika has made predictions about Yani, which have come true in the meantime. At the 2008 British Women’s Open Annika predicted Yani would be No. 1 in four years. It took her less than three.
“Yani’s very mentally strong,” said Sorenstam during her presser at Broadmoor, where she won her first US Women’s Open in ’95. “I mean, to come out and win four majors already at the age of 22, I think it’s impressive. What I saw many years ago was just that: I saw an impressive young lady with a lot of potential, a lot of will. She just has the pieces of the game that I thought would make it.
“And the pieces she didn’t have, she either went and found them or improved whatever she had. She’s worked very, very hard to be where she is today.”
It would only be fitting for Yani to win her first US Women’s Open at the same venue as her role model, wouldn’t it?
(AP Photo/ Mark J. Terrill)