If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Yani Tseng every time — especially if she’s betting on herself. The 22-year-old from Taiwan took full advantage of moving day in the third round and shot a bogey-free, six-under 66 at Grand Cypress, matching the low round of the tournament.
The World No. 1 got off to a slow start in the first two rounds of the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders, carding a four-over 76 on Friday (albeit in very, very tough conditions) for a combined two-over at the midway point.
Before teeing off on Saturday morning — in an effort to give herself some motivation — Yani made a $100 wager with her caddie, Jason Hamilton, that she would shoot better than three-under.
“Come on, world No. 1, you should play better than that,” said Hamilton, who took her up on it, hedging his bets (win-win situation for him — if he loses $100, it means she played well and he’ll earn perhaps thousands more from the cut he gets from her paycheck).
Yani didn’t feel as if she had played poorly in the first two rounds, but she wasn’t scoring.
“Today I just enjoyed myself out there and tried to make the most birdies as I could. The greens were really tough, and I holed a couple of long putts to make birdie or save par.
“I’m really happy and proud of myself. I mean, six‑under on this golf course with these conditions is not that easy, so I played really good today.”
After posting four-under 32 on the front nine, she glanced at the leaderboard and saw her name.
“It gave me more motivation to try to make more birdies and try to (move up even more),” she said.
It certainly worked on Saturday — as it has in the past.
Yani is known to enjoy a money game every now and then, and she rarely loses (just one time she could recall). Asked how often she bets with her caddie, she said on Thursday: “Two, three times this year, we’ll bet $10, $20, to keep me focused and try to make the most birdies I can.”
After the media frenzy and winning at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, held near her hometown, Yani was exhausted at the following week’s event in China. Solution?
“I had a bet with my caddie — the number was 12‑under — so if I played better I get $20, and two more shots better, I get $40, and if I lost I would pay him,” said the always-smiling Yani in her pre-tourney presser on Wednesday. “So I think that’s kind of that goal, for me to try to win $20, $40 that day, and that’s why I can keep my focus on that golf course, on that tournament, instead of thinking the other things.”
Yani, who has win 12 tournaments worldwide this season, seven of which were LPGA events and two of which were majors, is now in striking position to add another trophy to her growing collection. She already needs help carrying all the hardware she’s locked up, including Player of the Year and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
She trails co-leaders Hee Young Park and Sandra Gal, who are at seven-under, by three strokes. Yani will also be chasing World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen (-6) and Paula Creamer (-5).
Yani’s goal in the off-season last year was to work on handling pressure situations better. I’d say she’s succeeded. Besides, three strokes is child’s play for Yani, especially since you can make a double-bogey at Grand Cypress with a blink of an eye.
So, what’s tomorrow’s bet? Well, my money is on Yani.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)