US Women's Open 2012: Why Yani Tseng Can Complete the Career Grand Slam

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2012

PITTSFORD, NY - JUNE 8: Yani Tseng of Taiwan smiles and waves to the crowd after making her birdie putt on the ninth hole during the second round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club on June 8, 2012 in Pittsford, New York. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Yani Tseng is the youngest golfer ever, male or female, to win five major championships. She accomplished the feat last year at the Women's British Open.

The best player in the world is close to completing the career Grand Slam, and she has a shot to do it at the U.S. Women's Open, which will be held this week at Blackwolf Run.

At age 23, Tseng knows how to deal with pressure and push herself toward perfection. She became the first woman to win two majors in the same season since Annika Sorenstam did it, in 2005.

Nini—as friends and family know her—became the best golfer in 2011, after winning four titles in a row: one in the LPGA of Taiwan, another in the Australian Ladies Professional Golf and two in the Ladies European Tour.

At her 2011 LPGA debut, Tseng continued her dominant pace with another victory, this time at the Honda LPGA Thailand. She added six more trophies to her case for a total of 11 worldwide official titles, something no other golfer, male or female, had achieved for five years; the last one who did it was Tiger Woods.

This week, Tseng is looking to bounce back from missing the cut for the fourth time since her LPGA rookie season in 2008; she shot five-over par at last week's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Many golfers may find it difficult to overcome a blow like this, but not Nini. In 2010 she played the CN Canadian Women's Open and couldn't make her way through the weekend; a week later she played the P&G NW Arkansas Championship and won it by one stroke.

Last year, Tseng failed to dispute the last couple of rounds of the Avnet LPGA Classic. But at the following tournament—Sybase Match Play Championship—she posted a top-five finish.

Tseng has what many can only dream of: a piece of advice from her idol. Last week, Annika Sorenstam, from whom Tseng bought a house in Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., said she had talked to Tseng about the importance of staying patient during this rough patch.

In terms of performance at the U.S. Women's Open, Tseng has missed the cut once, in 2009, and has finished tied for 42nd, tied for 10th and tied for 15th in her other appearances.

For over a year, Tseng didn’t have much competition and seemed like she was playing against herself. Now she may be looking at a new contender in Stacy Lewis—who, despite trailing Tseng by eight points in the Rolex Rankings, managed to become the best American golfer on June 11, after winning twice in three weeks.

There’s another factor that can push Tseng to play like she has never before. If she wins the U.S. Women’s Open, she will become the youngest golfer ever, male or female, to complete the career Grand Slam. Woods accomplished the feat at age 24, Jack Nicklaus was 26 years old and Sorenstam was 33.

The combination of missing the cut, plus Lewis’ charge and the chance to make even more history can give Tseng an extra boost, which will draw attention to the LPGA.