Tseng looks to clean house again this year

By Doug FergusonFebruary 3, 2012, 9:25 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Yani Tseng has a tradition on Chinese New Year to give her house a thorough cleaning. She decided to start with the trophy cabinet, which was no small project. A photo she posted on Facebook shows a cabinet crowded with crystal.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan already has won five majors, the most of any golfer that age.

She is coming off a blockbuster season in which she won 12 times around the world, including the first four tournaments she played. She earned nearly $3 million on the LPGA Tour last year, more than the next two players combined. And she is No. 1 in the world by a large margin that only Tiger Woods could ever appreciate.

Tseng left her home at Lake Nona on Friday for what figures to be a tough encore.

“If I do the things I’m doing now, I think I will get better,” Tseng said. “I’ve been working on my swing, the physical side, I work on my English, everything. I think it’s going to help a lot. I need to do the mental and prepare and not put too much pressure on myself. It’s hard to do again. Twelve wins. Wow.”

Wow, indeed.

Tseng will be defending her title when the LPGA season gets under way next week with the Women’s Australian Open, to be played at Royal Melbourne just three months after the Presidents Cup.

Only two other women have won more in one season – Annika Sorenstam in 2002, who won 11 times on the LPGA and twice in Europe; and Mickey Wright in 1963, who won 13 times on the LPGA.

About the only thing Tseng lacks is attention.

In voting by sports editors for The Associated Press female athlete of the year, Tseng finished a distant fourth behind U.S. soccer players Abby Wambach and Hope Solo and UConn basketball star Maya Moore.

Golf magazine made U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy its player of the year, prompting LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan to write the magazine a mild rebuke, pointing out Tseng’s accomplishments in 2011 and suggesting that if her record had belonged to a male golfer, it would have been an easy choice. The magazine published his letter.

“It just felt like 1985 when I read that,” Whan said. “I like Rory. He’s a fun kid to watch. He’s like a young Tiger. He collapsed at the Masters, he had an unbelievable U.S. Open. I got that. But are we that much in a hurry to anoint the next one? She would never ask me to do that. I don’t think she cares. She just smiles and hits it 285.”

Women’s golf has struggled to get attention. Even after Sorenstam won 13 times in 2002, it took her playing in the Colonial – the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour – before she became a one-name star.

Tseng is coming off a year that attracted that kind of attention. The Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour offered her an exemption, but Tseng turned it down. She won’t rule out a shot on the PGA Tour, though she has more she wants to achieve.

“She hits it like a guy,” Juli Inkster said.

Tseng doesn’t behave like a PGA Tour player, though. At the season-ending Titleholders last November in Orlando, she invited the media to her home for a party, which she organized herself.

“I just feel I want to give something back,” Tseng said. “The media is working hard to promote the LPGA. And I’m from Asia; I’m not American. Sometimes it’s very tough for you guys. It’s not easy. I just feel like everyone is working hard, and we should have a party to celebrate the end of the year. Just have fun.”

At one point during the party, when the conversation turned to Universal Studios, Tseng went to her room and returned wearing a Harry Potter costume.

The attention she receives at home is entirely different.

Whan was in Taiwan last year for the LPGA Taiwan Championship at Sunrise, a course near where Tseng grew up. The gallery was enormous, filling up space on every hole. The pressure was as intense as it had been all year, even when Tseng won the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie or the LPGA Championship, her two majors.

She wound up winning by five shots.

But it was a pre-tournament party that Whan remembers the most.

“It was spooky. It was Michael Jordan, Game 7 kind of stuff,” he said. “You couldn’t move. They had to stop letting people in. They do this thing where somebody says something, and if they point a glass at you, you drink. Everybody was pointing the glass at Yani. She’s playing tomorrow and I’m thinking, ‘I need to get her out of here.’

“And she won it going away,” he said. “Most players would have felt an unbelievable burden. She looked like she was going to a wedding. She looked the same as if you’d see her in an airport flying home from the British. There’s not a lot of highs and lows with her. She just smiles her way through everything.”

Tseng’s first LPGA win was a major, the LPGA Championship in 2008 when she was a 19-year-old rookie. She recalls a time when she stressed over every bogey, every missed putt. That’s when she picked up some advice from Sorenstam, her hero.

“The end of my second year, I talked to Annika, and she helped me set goals,” Tseng said. “My first question was, ‘How can I be No. 1?’ Annika said, ‘You can’t think of No. 1. If you want to be No. 1, you have to win more tournaments. How do you win more tournaments? You have the lowest score. How do you make lowest score? Hit on fairway, hit on green. And that’s how you work.”’

She worked hard enough to become LPGA player of the year the last two seasons and No. 1 in the world by a mile.

Tseng is playing the first three weeks in Australia, Thailand and Singapore. The LPGA’s domestic schedule does not start until March in Arizona. If there is one tournament on her mind already, it’s the U.S. Women’s Open, the major keeping her from a career Grand Slam.

'I would not say it’s my goal,” she said. But then she smiled and added, “But it’s always what I’m thinking about.”

She surely would find room in the trophy cabinet for that one.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.