Golfing World caught up with Yani Tseng to talk about becoming No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings and her win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. They also followed Tseng as she was introduced to Australian animals.
Tseng Solidifies Hold on No. 1 in Rolex Rankings
Hall of Famer Webb captures No. 37, returns to Rolex Rankings Top 10
Next Up for Tseng, Webb on the LPGA Tour: RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida, Feb. 28, 2011 – Yani Tseng strengthened her hold atop the Rolex Rankings with a tie for third finish at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore Sunday. The twenty-two year old from Taiwan closed with a final-round 67 to finish three strokes behind winner Karrie Webb, who captured her 37th career LPGA victory. Tseng was attempting to capture back-to-back LPGA victories and her fourth consecutive title world-wide.
Arguably the hottest player on the planet, over the last 11 months, Tseng has won four times on the LPGA Tour, including twice at major championships – the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open – and another three times internationally. After two events on the LPGA Tour in 2011, Tseng holds the early lead for the LPGA Official money list title and Vare Trophy, and she is tied with Webb for Rolex Player of the Year honors.
Entering championship Sunday in Singapore, Webb trailed Japan’s Chie Arimura by one. A back-nine rally lifted the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member to a final-round 69 and a one-stroke victory. The win was Webb’s 37th in a highly decorated career which includes seven major championships, three LPGA money titles, three Vare Trophies and two Rolex Player of the Year awards.
The win also lifted Webb to No. 10 in the Rolex Rankings. Webb also is the youngest player in LPGA history to achieve the Career Grand Slam, a record that Tseng is chasing. Tseng needs only to win the U.S. Women’s Open to complete the Grand Slam. Tseng is 22. Webb was 26 when she accomplished the feat.
“When I was younger, I watched Karrie playing golf all the time,” said Tseng after her final round in Singapore, “and then the first time played with Karrie, I was so nervous… she shot 62, so I never forgot.”
Both Tseng and Webb will next compete with a host of other top-ranked players at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup to be played at Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa March 18-20. Webb was the last LPGA player to hoist a trophy in Phoenix when she won the 2009 Safeway Classic at Superstition Mountain. The RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup will kick start a three-week stretch in the United States, culminating in the year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where Tseng is the defending champion.
Tseng ascended to the No. 1 position on the Rolex Rankings after capturing two events in Australia co-sanctioned by the ALPG (Australian Ladies Professional Golf) and LET (Ladies European Tour). A week later, Tseng won the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand on the LPGA Tour. While Tseng makes a case to become the game’s next dominant player, several others look to get back in the mix for the race for No. 1, including former world No. 1’s Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato.
After a compelling start to the LPGA season, the top-10 players in the Rolex Rankings are the following: No. 1 Tseng, No. 2 Jiyai Shin, No. 3 Na Yeon Choi, No. 4 Suzann Pettersen, No. 5 Cristie Kerr, No. 6 Ai Miyazato, No. 7 I.K. Kim, No. 8 Michelle Wie, No. 9 Sun Ju Ahn, No. 10 Karrie Webb.
Tseng Set to Ascend to Rolex Rankings No. 1 as LPGA Tour season kicks off this week in Thailand
*The 2011 LPGA Tour season begins as 2010 ended, with a battle at the top
*Star-packed lineup prepares to tee off Thursday at Honda LPGA Thailand
*Japan’s Ai Miyazato set to defend her titles in both Thailand and Singapore
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida, February 13, 2011 – Yani Tseng, 22, the 2010 Rolex Player of the Year, is projected by the LPGA Tour to ascend to the top of the Rolex Rankings for the first time in her still blossoming career when the Rolex Rankings are officially announced Monday.
Tseng captures the No. 1 ranking as the eagerly anticipated 2011 LPGA Tour season kicks off this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand, where a star-studded field awaits fans following Golf’s Global Tour.
Taiwan’s Tseng surged to the top spot from her 2010 season-ending position of No. 5 by winning the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters over the past two weeks, tournaments co-sanctioned by the ALPG (Australian Ladies Professional Golf) and LET (Ladies European Tour). Tseng accomplished one of her goals for the season before hitting a single ball on the LPGA Tour, which begins Thursday in Chonburi, Thailand at the Siam Country Club.
“It is so soon,” Tseng said. “I wasn’t expecting it as quickly as this. I still have another 10 months to go. I just need to be very patient and keep working hard. I still have a lot of things to learn too.”
If that’s the case, it should make for a riveting 2011 LPGA Tour season. Tseng already has won three of the four LPGA Tour majors—the 2008 LPGA Championship, and the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship and 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open—and has her eyes set on capturing this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, to be contested at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado from July 7-10. If Tseng achieves her goal of winning the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open, she will become the youngest player in LPGA history to achieve the LPGA Career Grand Slam.
Last season, Japan’s Ai Miyazato was the hottest player out of the gates as she set the stage for a season-long battle for supremacy on the LPGA Tour. She is the defending champion this week in Thailand and next week at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Both events will be shown on the Golf Channel.
After the two-tournament season-opening swing in Asia, the LPGA prepares for three tournaments out West in the U.S. The inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, a 134-player, 54-hole event, will take place March 18-20 at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Arizona. Players participating will forgo a tournament purse in favor of financially supporting the LPGA Foundation that runs the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program as well as their own favorite charities. The Kia Classic, moving to the Los Angeles area this year, will follow from March 24-27, while the LPGA Tour’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, will be held March 31-April 3.
In 2011, LPGA Tour players will showcase their talent across 13 different countries including new
tournaments in the U.S., Taiwan and China. Who will distinguish herself on the leader boards this season? Along with Tseng and Miyazato, there are a number of other exciting players to watch closely in 2011:
Jiyai Shin of South Korea recorded the seventh and eighth victories of her still brief LPGA career last season. She became just the third player (Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa) to finish an LPGA Tour season as Rolex Rankings No. 1, a feat complicated when she had an emergency appendectomy early in 2010.
Projected Rolex Rankings No. 3 and top-ranked American Cristie Kerr became the first American to top the Rolex Rankings last year following her dominant 12-stroke victory at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. She also became just the fifth player in LPGA history to eclipse the $12 million mark in 2010.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway, currently projected to be No. 4 in the Rolex Rankings Monday, recorded five runner-up finishes in 2010 and begins 2011 seeking her first victory since the 2009 CN Canadian Women’s Open. She won the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand for one of her five victories during her breakout 2007 season.
Na Yeon Choi of South Korea recorded two victories last season en route to winning the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. She also ended the year atop the LPGA Official Money List, and appears poised to build on her winning ways in 2011.
Other notables to watch the next two weeks in Thailand and Singapore include Americans Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer, who both posted impressive victories last year (Wie at the CN Canadian Open, and Creamer for her first major, the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open); South Korea’s I.K. Kim, who won the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in 2010 and proceeded to donate all her winnings to charity; a pair of second-year Spaniards—last season’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Azahara Munoz and Rolex First-time Winner Beatriz Recari; and a riveting rookie class that includes Americans Jessica Korda and Jennifer Song, who both will be playing at the Honda LPGA Thailand on sponsor exemptions.