Yani Tseng a targeted figure at Mission Hills
Yani Tseng, the LPGA Tour‘s dominant figure, is unquestionably the player to beat at this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California, and permanent venue for the year’s first major for women.
The world number one from Taiwan has already triumphed three times this season in five starts and will be bidding for a sixth major victory when she tees off in Thursday’s (Friday, PHL time) opening round at Mission Hills Country Club.
“I’m working hard and those accomplished goals, that winning, is making it all pay off,” 2010 Kraft Nabisco champion Tseng, who won 12 titles worldwide last year, told reporters.
“I expect to win every week. Every player wants to win the tournament. We won’t come here to finish second, so we’re always trying to do our best to play well on every tournament.”
Tseng, who has remarkably won six times in her past 12 events, said she learned a great deal from the disappointment of finishing second in last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.
The long-hitting Taiwanese held a two-shot lead going into the final round at Mission Hills but ended up losing the title to American Stacy Lewis after closing with a two-over-par 74.
“I know my emotional control wasn’t very good. I was very stressful after I missed a putt, after I made a bad shot,” said the 23-year-old Tseng. “But after that tournament, I had a little meeting with my team, my trainer, to see how much I can improve on the tournament, and I did after that.
“I’ve been playing very well, and I learned how I can win in a tournament when I was leading on Sunday or when I was behind on Sunday.”
Tseng’s astonishing record over the last 12 months certainly supports her comments, and has made her a targeted figure at Mission Hills this week.
“What she’s done is phenomenal,” said Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, who finished a stroke behind the triumphant Tseng at the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship. “She’s won five majors, she’s 23 years old.
“She’s a very consistent contender every week. But I still think it’s possible to play better than her, and that’s what I believe. I believe in my own game. I know what I’ve done in the past, and I know what I’m capable of doing.”
American Morgan Pressel, who won her first major title at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship, also applauded Tseng’s achievements.
“It’s hard for anybody in golf not to watch her performance and think about how impressive it is and how golf just seems easier for her than for everybody else,” Pressel said.
“Right now, Yani doesn’t have as much competition as maybe she even wants, so we all need to practise a little bit harder. We need to go out there and challenge her more often because right now she’s beating us pretty badly.”
One thing Tseng will not be doing this week is touching the cherished Kraft Nabisco Championship trophy before Sunday’s final round is over.
That was a ‘good-luck’ ritual the Taiwanese adopted from former world number one Lorena Ochoa but she abandoned the strategy after her experience at Mission Hills last year.
“It worked very well, but it just didn’t work last year,” said Tseng. “After that, I won’t touch a trophy again. I will never see it again; even when I see it I would just pretend I’m not seeing anything.”