Tseng rides her luck to keep Kerr at bay
Saturday 31 July 2010
There was a moment on the 15th hole during her second round at the Ricoh Women's British Open here yesterday when Yani Tseng confessed: "I wanted to kill myself."
Golf has a habit of doing that to a person even when he or she – or that should be, especially when he or she – is holding a commanding lead in a major.
Fortunately for all involved, the suicidal thoughts abated and Tseng felt able to stride forward into a four-shot clubhouse advantage over a pack containing the mighty American Cristie Kerr. The Taiwanese rode her luck and rode away, only stopping afterwards to consider the break which broke her free.
The 21-year-old sliced her second shot on the par-five towards the gorse. Convinced it was a goner, she reloaded. "My provisional went 30 yards right of my first," she said. Plainly devastated, Tseng marched up to the rough, expecting to march straight back again to play a third ball, but was delighted to discover her original effort had located a clear patch. She was soon signing for a second successive 68 to stand at eight-under.
Annika Sorenstam would have approved. At the start of the season, the Swede advised Tseng how to become the world No 1. It consisted of the usual "stay patient, don't go for every pin" lines. This was not completely altruistic on the Swede's behalf as the girl was in the process of buying her house in Orlando. And as anyone in the desperate environs of Florida real estate would confirm, "whatever it takes". "Annika told me I had to fill the trophy room, but it's huge," Tseng said. "It looks so empty."
Seeing as Sorenstam won more than 90 titles over the 16 years which represent one of the game's most successful careers, Tseng has some catching up to do and perhaps it will be better for her ego if she picks on someone her own age. Step forward, Michelle Wie. Yesterday the Hawaiian followed up a hugely encouraging 70 with a 76 to fall to the middle reaches of the leaderboard. All the hype of the night previous had transmogrified once more into tripe.
Tseng might conclude it was ever thus with the Hawaiian 10 months her junior. In 2004, Tseng beat Wie in the final of the US Women's Public Links. Yet while the loser was built up into a global superstar, turning pro the next year as a 16-year-old, Tseng followed a more cautious path. She remained an amateur until she was 18 and then started on the Asian and Canadian Tours.
Which route worked? Money-grabbing or experience-gaining? Well, Tseng is the world No 5 and already has two majors to her name and Wie has not enjoyed a top-10 finish in a major in four years.
Alas, it wasn't just Wie nursing the bruises of golf's traditional backlash. There is not a Briton in the top 20 and last year's champion, Catriona Matthew, suffered a 10 – that included an air shot – on the par-four 13th. The Scot was close to tears as her defence ended in humiliation at 12-over. "Supermum" had been force-fed 81 shots of Kryptonite.
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