Apr
5
2010
Know Your Asians: Yani Tseng (Ya-nee Sang)
By Stephanie Wei under General

There’s an influx of Asians on the LPGA. And they’re really good. In fact, they win a lot. But many fans find it difficult to keep track of who is who because, you know, all Asians look alike and their names sound the same. So, let’s get to know them better.

Because everyone loves a winner, Yani Tseng is this week’s featured Asian. She won the the LPGA’s first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, by one stroke over Suzann Pettersen on Sunday. Amidst a star-studded leaderboard that also included Lorena Ochoa, Jiyai Shin and Cristie Kerr, Tseng fired a four-day total of 13-under to capture her career second major victory.

If you know anything at all about Yani, you know it’s impossible not to love her.

  • Born in Taiwan, she’s 21 years old.
  • Her English fluency? Pretty good — she gives interviews and press conferences interpreter-free. She even tweets!
  • She has a great sense of humor, making fun jokes on this past Sunday’s pre-game show.
  • She enjoys working out, playing Ping-Pong, and is an avid billiards player (I’ve also heard she’s a badass dancer).
  • After a successful amateur career (four big amateur wins, including the 2004 US Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship where she beat defending champion Michelle Wie), she turned professional in 2007.
  • Finishing sixth at LPGA Q-school, she earned her card for 2008.
  • During her rookie year, she captured her first LPGA victory in June 2008 at the LPGA Championship and became the first player from Taiwan to win a major championship.
  • On March 29, 2009, she became the fastest player in LPGA history to reach $2 million in career earnings in a span of one year, one month and thirteen days.
  • She hits the ball a mile, averaging 262 yards off the tee this season.
  • Before the third round of the Kraft Nabisco, she called friend and playing partner Suzann Pettersen to suggest they wear matching outfits — purple shirts and white shorts.
  • Yani lives in Lake Nona Golf & Country club in Orlando, Florida, in a house previously owned by her idol, Annika Sorenstam, who paid her a visit in January for a pep talk.
  • One of her goals off the course is to learn how to swim in her new pool.
  • After signing her scorecard at the Kraft, she took a celebratory plunge into the pond on the 18th, momentarily forgetting she can’t swim — “It’s kind of my dream to jump in the water,” Tseng said. She added: “I told my caddie: ‘Wait! I don’t know how to swim. Can you let me get out here?’ because it was a little scary.”
  • Yani’s press conference was interrupted by an earthquake, which was the first she’d experienced in the US: “We have a lot in Taiwan, but this was big. I like it. Cool. It’s like my big week. I hope nobody gets hurt.”

Asian-ness Scale (1-10, 1: Michelle Wie, totally Americanized; 5: Se Ri Pak, somewhat assimilated; 10: Eun-Hee Ji, 한국말): Yani = 5