B/R Exclusive Interview: Yani Tseng's Quest to Stay on Top of Women's Golf

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2012

HOYLAKE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Yani Tseng of Taiwan in action during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on September 11, 2012 in Hoylake, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Yani Tseng has led women's golf since February 2011. In the past 19 months, the 23-year-old has captured 14 titles—including 10 in the LPGA—more than any other golfer, male or female.

This week, the Taiwanese is ready to take over the Women's British Open, the last major championship of the season.

The fact that she can become the first ever three-time winner of the event hadn't even crossed her mind.

"I really didn't think it that way, until you asked. But I think playing the British Open is more like history and tradition, playing at a links golf course and the fans out here are the most important things for me."

Preparing for an event like this is always a priority, but Tseng skipped the Kingsmill Championship, a star-studded event, to play the Suzann Pro Challenge, a charity tourney.

"Playing with Lorena and Annika, it was priceless. I really enjoyed it and I am so appreciative to have participated in it.”

Taking some time off helped a lot. Yani needed a break from the tour, and playing in a more relaxed event was key to enjoying golf even more.

She had been struggling with her game over the past couple of months. She missed three cuts in her last five events, something that had never happened before in her five seasons as an LPGA member.

This led to rumors regarding her level. For a golfer like Yani, who cares about what people says, it was tough.

"When I look back, they are all negative things... sometimes it really breaks my heart, like why did they say that."

It's not easy to compete week in and week out, especially for a golfer that leads the Rolex Rankings.

"People are trying to grab every part of you, so it’s really hard to focus. You need to take care of your time and practice, you need to rest and talk to media. So it's really important to organize those things".

To handle her superstar status, Tseng has asked advice from the best, like Annika Sorenstam—from whom she purchased a house in 2009—and most recently from Tiger Woods.

Yani met Woods two weeks ago at the fifth annual Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge, and it was  eyeopening for her.

"Tiger was saying that the longer you're playing, the more you'll be stressed. Everybody is the same. It's hard to always be on top.  You go down, you go up."

It's been six months since she grabbed her last title at the Kia Classic—her longest winless drought since 2010—and her confidence has dropped. She is aware that she needs to get it back if she wants to play well.

Despite it all, she can learn a lot from this period and whenever she goes back to the winner's circle, "that will probably be my best trophy ever," she said.

She said that the long-awaited victory can come this week at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club because "I'm the best."

She's not shy to say it, but that does not mean she is cocky. Actually, she is one of the most humble players in golf.

"I just want to show the fans my big smile and play the game that I love. I just feel like it’s a big honor to be here."


*All the quotes from this interview were obtained first-hand. Special thanks to the LPGA Communications Department.