LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan today congratulated Yani Tseng on winning her second-consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award at the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Championship in her native Taiwan. Tseng becomes the eighth player in LPGA Tour history to win back-to-back Rolex Player of the Year awards and the 11th player in history to win multiple Player of the Year awards. She will formally accept the honor at a reception during the season-ending CME Group Titleholders at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla.
“It feels very special for me to have the award announced in Taiwan,” Tseng said. “I feel like especially this week I can be sure to honor all of the fans in Taiwan and I really appreciate the LPGA Tour for giving me the opportunity. It means a lot to me especially because I won it two years in a row and I never even thought last year I would win it. I set out a goal in the beginning of the year to hopefully win it again and I do my best every tournament. It feels really different because last year it came down to the very last tournament but this time it is five weeks earlier and it keeps me really relaxed.”
Through 20 events in the 2011 LPGA season, Tseng has six wins – including major championship victories at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open – and more than $2.5 million in earnings. She also leads the race for her first-ever Vare Trophy for low scoring average by more than a full stroke over Cristie Kerr, the LPGA Official Money List and the following statistical categories: rounds under par, birdies, greens in regulation and driving distance average.
“Yani is a true global ambassador of the LPGA and the game of golf and nowhere is that more evident than in her native Taiwan where we are hosting the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Championship,” Whan said. “I congratulate Yani on another fantastic year and a second-consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award. I know I join many golf fans who look forward to what she has in store for the remainder of this season.”
“Once again Yani Tseng has completed a fantastic year and earned the title of Rolex Player of the Year,” said Peter Nicholson, VP of Communications at Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc. “We salute her accomplishments as she joins an elite club of consecutive year winners. She is a true professional and her future is bright.”
For her career, Yani has 11 LPGA victories including five major championships. In terms of LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame qualification, Tseng has now earned 18 of the requisite 27 points necessary to gain entrance and could earn a 19th point if she claims Vare Trophy honors at the end of 2011.
HOW DOMINANT IS YANI TSENG?
Reaction’s to Yani Tseng’s Dominance
Even before Yani Tseng won her fifth major title at the 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open, players were reacting to her dominance on Tour.
Yani Tseng Becomes Youngest Golfer To Win Five Majors
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng successfully defended her title at the RICOH Women’s British Open, shooting a final-round 69 at the storied Carnoustie Golf Links to take a four-stroke victory over Brittany Lang. At 22 years, 6 months, 8 days, Tseng becomes the youngest golfer in history to win five career major titles. Tiger Woods had previously held that distinction, having won his fifth major at 24 years, 7 months.
Tseng entered Sunday’s final round trailing LET rookie Caroline Masson of Germany by two strokes. After a bogey on the opening hole dropped her to three strokes back, Tseng made a birdie on No. 3 while Masson recorded her second straight bogey to put them tied atop the leadboard at 13-under-par. A birdie on the sixth gave Tseng the outright lead for the first time in the championship and from there, she managed to hang steady while Masson faltered on the back side. Tseng book ended back-to-back bogeys on No. 12 and 13 with birdies on 11 and 14. She headed to the 18th hole with a three-shot lead and capped off her impressive victory with a birdie on the famous closing hole at Carnoustie.
It’s the first time that Tseng, who won the 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, has been able to successfully defend a tournament title.
Prior to becoming the youngest golfer to five majors, Tseng already had the distinction of being the youngest player in LPGA history to win four majors — capturing the 2008 LPGA Championship, 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open and the 2011 Wegmans LPGA Championship. All that’s currently lacking from Tseng’s impressive resume in major championships is a U.S. Women’s Open victory.
Youngest golfers to win five majors:
Yani Tseng ’11 Women’s British Open 22 years, 6 months
Tiger Woods ’00 PGA Championship 24 years, 7 months
Patty Berg ’43 Women’s Western Open 25 years, 4 months,
Louise Suggs ’49 U.S. Women’s Open 26 years, 18 days
Jack Nicklaus ’66 Masters 26 years, 2 months
Karrie Webb ’01 U.S. Women’s Open 26 years, 6 months
Mickey Wright ’61 LPGA Championship 26 years, 8 months
Bobby Jones ’29 U.S. Open 27 years, 3 months
In a class of her own: Since joining the LPGA Tour in 2008, Tseng has developed into one of the Tour’s most dominant players.
Tseng has posted four wins and five other top-10 finishes this season on the LPGA Tour. She has also won three other professional events world-wide including the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and ANZ RACV Ladies Open. Last year, she won three titles, two of which were majors – the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open. In 2009, she claimed her second LPGA victory at the Corning LPGA Classic and carded 14 top-10’s. In 2008, as an LPGA rookie, Tseng became a Rolex First-Time winner at the LPGA Championship, posted 10 top-10’s, and won the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Tseng turned professional in 2007 and competed on the Asian Golf Tour and CN Canadian Women’s Tour. She qualified for the LPGA by finishing sixth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
Earning her place in the record books: By winning her fifth major title, Tseng joins an elite group of golfers who have reached that number of major championships in their careers.
Tseng is now the 15th player in LPGA history to win at least five majors, joining a list of players that includes Annika Sorenstam, Patty Berg, Mickey Wright and Karrie Webb. She also finds herself on a list with other famous golfers who have accomplished the feat such as Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen.
Tseng has won four of the last eight majors on the LPGA Tour and she also becomes only the second player in LPGA history to win multiple majors in consecutive years. Karrie Webb was the first to do it, following up wins at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2000 with victories at the 2001 LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Lang, who finished runner-up to Tseng at the RICOH Women’s British Open. “I couldn’t even imagine 22 years old, fifth major, and how many events has she won other than majors. She’s so mentally strong and she’s so aggressive and confident. She’s just got it all. It’s pretty cool to watch.”
The affable 22-year old from Taiwan, who is often seen wearing a mile-wide smile, wants her impact on the globe to be one beyond the number of trophies she wins. Tseng desperately wants to be the force that inspires a generation of young girls to take up the game of golf in her home country. Inspired as a youngster by Annika Sorenstam, Tseng looks to have the same impact that Annika, Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak have had on youth and golf in their respective homelands.
Tseng, who resides in Orlando, Fla., has developed a strong friendship with Sorenstam. She even bought the former house of the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member in Lake Nona and now lives just down the street from Sorenstam. Tseng has long looked to Sorentstam as a mentor and has sought out her advice on handling the pressure of being the top-ranked female golfer in the world. After Tseng’s win on Sunday, Sorenstam posted a message on Twitter that said, “Yani displays another amazing performance. Congrats !!”
Pretty in pink: This year Tseng has adopted one tradition that many other golfers have used throughout their careers, picking a Sunday color to wear when she’s in the hunt for a tournament title. Tseng’s choice? A magenta shade of pink. As she’s done for most of this year, Tseng wore a pink polo shirt for the final round and said it’s her lucky color.
“I did ask my friend if people were wearing pink in Taiwan to cheer for me because they couldn’t come here to watch,” said Tseng, who was showered with champagne after her win by her manager, her mother and her caddy’s fiancé. “So when they wear pink to cheer for me, I feel like lots of people are supporting me.
Developing a love for links golf: Tseng appears to enjoy playing links golf based on her record of success at the RICOH Women’s British Open. In four career appearances at the Women’s British Open, Tseng has two wins (2010 and 2011) and one runner-up finish (2008 at Sunningdale). Her worst finish came was a T20 in 2009 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Thinking of Van de Velde? Perhaps one of the most famous images in the history of storied Carnoustie Golf Links is Jean Van de Velde standing in Barry Burn on the 18th hole in the midst of losing the 1999 Open Championship. Van de Velde had headed to the18th hole with a three-stroke lead, only to eventually lose in a playoff following his closing triple-bogey. And after her win on Sunday, Tseng acknowledged that she was thinking of Van de Velde when she walked to 18.
“I had a three?shot lead so I thought I’d better hit a good drive here to win the tournament,” Tseng said. “I thought, okay, let’s hit a good drive, finish here, and I hit a good drive and the second shot I hit 9?iron, and I feel like a little juiced up, so full shot 9?iron. I hit it like 135 I think, so that was a great shot.
“When you come on this golf course you’re going think about him,” she added. “I did think about it a little bit.”
Final round surge: Brittany Lang started Sunday’s final round in a tie for sixth and thanks to her round of 67, which included a 4-under 32 on the back nine, vaulted herself into a runner-up finish behind Tseng.
For Lang, it was her sixth career runner-up finish and her first since 2009. She entered the RICOH Women’s British having not finished better than a tie for 50th in her last three events. But she managed to handle the challenges of links golf at the storied Carnoustie Golf Links, which was hosting the Women’s British Open for the first time. She was particularly proud of the way that she played during Sunday’s final round.
“I played great today,” Lang said. “I’m very happy with how I played. I made some really big par putts early on. Those first few holes played tough, and I made some really good par putts. And then from then on I just played fairly flawless golf. I stayed in each shot, and I was pretty happy with how I handled it mentally.”
Super Sunday: On the final day of the RICOH Women’s British Open, the focus was not solely on crowning a champion as the players also helped aide the relief efforts for the earthquake and the tsunami that struck Japan back in March.
RICOH Women’s British Open Begins Thursday
Pre-tournament Interview with YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. How confident are you feeling that you can retain your title here at Carnoustie?
YANI TSENG: Actually I feel very confident right now, and I feel comfortable. I don’t feel like I get so much attention and I just feel very relaxed, and tomorrow I’m just going to be positive and smile and then be patient, and that’s all I can do. There’s nothing much I can really control because it’s just the wind and the bounce of the golf course. You can’t control much, just have to go out and play the golf course.
Q. This course is renowned globally as one of if not the toughest links courses in the world. Is that an opinion that you share?
YANI TSENG: I do, I feel that. I was writing on my Facebook today, this is the top three in the world tough golf courses. I think it’s one of my favourite golf courses. When I came here, I played after a couple holes, I just love it. I love this golf course. I don’t know if I’m going to shoot a good score, but I just feel like I will have lots of fun on this golf course.
Q. All of your success you’ve had over the last year, how often do you manage to get home and what’s sort of been the reaction back in Taiwan?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it’s huge. I mean, all the people ?? more people recognise me when I walk on the street. People will say, oh, you did a very good job and we’re always cheering for you, and I feel like in the States or here, I don’t feel like I’m alone. So many people are supporting Taiwan. And now the TV coverage on the LPGA is more and all the people are going to follow me in Taiwan. It’s lots of fun. Now I’m wearing the pink on Sunday, so now lots of people in Taiwan are wearing the pink and watching on the TV to cheer for me, too.
The LPGA will officially kick off its final major of the 2011 season, the RICOH Women’s British Open, on Thursday in Carnoustie, Scotland. For the first time in the history of the Women’s British Open, the storied Carnoustie Golf Links will play host to the event which boasts a field of 144 players who are competing for a $2.5 million purse.
Defending champion and current Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng headlines the star-studded field. Last year at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England, Tseng became the youngest player in LPGA history to win three major championship titles by taking a one-stroke victory over Katherine Hull.
Tseng will have some tough competition to defend her title as she’ll be joined in the field this week by the rest of the top-10 in the Rolex Rankings: No. 2 Cristie Kerr, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 4 Jiyai Shin, No. 5 Na Yeon Choi, No. 6 and last week’s Evian Masters champion Ai Miyazato, No. 7 I.K. Kim, No. 8 Sun-Ju Ahn, No. 9 Paula Creamer and No. 10 Karrie Webb.
There is a strong international flavor at this year’s RICOH Women’s British Open with a total of 25 countries represented in the field. There are 37 players from the U.S., 28 players from Korea and 12 from England. Among the other countries represented are South Africa, Slovakia, Denmark, Japan and Italy.