At a media event in Taipei, Taiwan, for the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, Commissioner Mike Whan announced that world No. 1 Yani Tseng had clinched the 2011 Player of the Year Award. Yani, a native of Taiwan who grew up nearby, became the eighth player in the tour’s history to win the award in back-to-back years. A month before the season-ending Titleholders event in Orlando, she has already captured 6 LPGA victories, including two majors.
“It feels very special for me to have the award announced in Taiwan,” Tseng said, via LPGA.com. “I feel like especially this week I can be sure to honor all of the fans in Taiwan and I really appreciate the LPGA Tour for giving me the opportunity. It means a lot to me especially because I won it two years in a row and I never even thought last year I would win it.
“I set out a goal in the beginning of the year to hopefully win it again and I do my best every tournament. It feels really different because last year it came down to the very last tournament but this time it is five weeks earlier and it keeps me really relaxed.”
Whan said he hopes the global media have recognized that “virtually every time Yani picks up a club, she’s making history.”
Judging by Tuesday’s turnout, Taiwan has taken notice.
At the news conference, Choi recalled her first trip to Taiwan as an amateur, when a young Tseng carried her clubs on the back of a scooter. The pair have split the past two events on the Asian swing, finishing 1-2 in each.
Pettersen took a friendly jab at Tseng when she bragged that she “can’t wait to take (Tseng) down on home soil.”
Tseng joined the national team at Sunrise Golf and Country Club as a junior for monthlong training sessions for the Asian Games. She’s fully aware of the brutal winds that pound this elevated course. Several players carried only a handful of clubs around Sunrise on Tuesday, opting to play most of the course in their minds on a windswept afternoon.
“I thought if I had wings, I’d take off,” Pettersen said.
In addition to fielding questions, the three players held traditional Taiwanese puppets and posed for throngs of reporters. Quite an unusual sight.
When the news conference ended, the same security guards who looked after Lady Gaga whisked Tseng and her managers through a wall of hedges and back to the Audi parade.
The scene certainly cemented Tseng’s status as a rock star on the island of Taiwan and hammered home the importance of the LPGA’s presence in Asia.
Congrats to Yani!