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Yani Tseng: in Her Own Words, What Does It Mean Being World Number 1?

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2011

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Yani Tseng of Taiwan poses with the Player of the Year trophy at the LPGA Rolex Awards Reception at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on November 17, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

In November 2010, Yani Tseng became the first Taiwanese golfer to receive the Rolex Player of the Year award.

At that time, she wasn't the best in the world. Tseng was fourth despite winning three times, two of those major championships.

A lot has changed since last season. Yesterday, she was named Rolex Player of the Year again and did so as the best on the planet, a designation that suits perfectly to the only golfer, male or female, who won 11 titles in 2011.

During our chat at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Tseng told me what being world No.1 means for her.

"I think this is just beginning; now I want to focus on my game and get better. In the future I'd love to be like Annika or Lorena, that's my big goal; just to see or hear my name next to theirs is an honor."

But getting atop the Rolex Rankings wasn't easy, even though she was the first LPGA member to win two majors in a single season since Annika Sorenstam did so in 2005.

"I was happy I didn't become No. 1 last year, because that way I knew what I could achieve, what my goals were, so I worked very hard to get ready for 2011 and play well."

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After a stellar season which included winning on home turf, Yani knows that "I need to find new challenges, goals and achievements, and I'm working on them."

The job isn't done yet. After Lorena Ochoa's retirement, four players fought for the top spot of the rankings, but none of them stayed there for more than 25 weeks (Jiyai Shin); Yani's been up there for 40 and counting, leading Suzann Pettersen by 7.52 points.

"I told myself, if I become No. 1 I don't want to fall down, I want to stay on top as long as I can, I don't want to be there just for a couple of weeks," and to accomplish the feat, improvement and learning are key factors.

In the near future, she wants to get better, because "if you shot a 64 round, you can shoot 63 the next day, for sure."

Tseng's performance on the course has given her a new status, one as a role model; she knows it well and embraces it.

"When I was young I looked up to Annika and Lorena, if I can do that for little kids or junior golfers in Taiwan or just be an inspiration for them to become better, that's great and very special."

The 2011 LPGA season ends this week, and Tseng will have at least two months to get ready to achieve a goal that sounds complex, but pretty much possible: "winning 11 times just in the LPGA, that's my next objective."

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