Tseng brings killer instinct but with a smile

By Randall MellJune 6, 2012, 9:22 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Her smile is trouble.

If you’re a fellow LPGA pro, Rolex World No. 1 Yani Tseng can wobble your knees with her smile.

“My coach told me, `Smile to the game and the game will smile to you,’” Tseng said Wednesday as she prepared to defend her title at the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club. “So that’s kind of my goal this week, try not to think too much, and not try too hard.”

Nobody plays with more joy than Tseng.

If the LPGA counted smiles per round, Tseng would lead that stat, too.

Her smile is good for the women’s game, but not necessarily for the rest of the women who play the game.

World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi says she finds it disconcerting to look over at Tseng with the pressure ratcheting up and seeing her smile as she goes into her pre-shot routine.

“It’s kind of scary,” Choi said. “She never looks nervous, or as if there’s pressure on her.”

Yeah, Tseng has her low moments, times when the game gets her down, times when that smile can’t be summoned, but she is learning to manage those moments as she grows more comfortable carrying the Rolex World No. 1 ranking.

“People don’t realize the game is more attitude than anything,” said Gary Gilchrist, Tseng’s coach. “I think a lot of girls go into a tournament with a lot of negativity. They’re not smiling on the game. That attracts all kinds of things.”

Tseng shouldn’t have trouble finding her smile at the Wegmans LPGA Championship this week, and yet Locust Hill crystallizes the challenge Tseng faces this year.

At season’s start, Tseng confessed to Gilchrist that she was stressing out over expectations. How in the world was she going to top last year? How was she going to follow up a year when she won 12 times around the world, seven of them LPGA events, two of them major championships?

Gilchrist told her a jockey can’t win a horse race if he’s always looking at what’s behind him. They talked about realistic goals, managing expectations, accepting that preparation and effort is enough, and you can’t always control luck.

“Yani, you’re a human being,” Gilchrist told her. “You’re not a machine.”

Those lessons are all in play again this week with Tseng returning to the major she won by a whopping 10 shots.

How do you top that? How do you equal last year’s runaway performance. She is staring down the same kind of questions she faced at year’s start.

“It’s hard to say I have no pressure, because there is pressure,” Tseng said. “I just try to turn that pressure into positive pressure, just to enjoy that pressure.”

Tseng overcame that stress she struggled with at year’s start. She was able to relax more after her sessions with Gilchrist, and she won three of her first five LPGA starts. But after falling short at the Kraft Nabisco again this spring, her focus is on getting her game back to the level it takes to win a major. At 23, she is still the youngest player to hold five major championship titles. She wants to become the youngest to six this week.

With a sluggish practice round Tuesday, Tseng didn’t feel great about her game. She’s coming off a T-12 finish in her last start at the Shoprite Classic. That, by the way, is the only time she hasn’t finished in the top 10 in nine events this season. Tseng, though, said she felt good about her work Wednesday.

“I feel my game is there and ready to go,” Tseng said.

That’s something Tseng can smile about, if not her competition.

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TT postscript: Tiger (E) survives difficult day

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 6:38 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Here are some observations after watching Tiger Woods’ even-par 70 in the first round of the Honda Classic:

• Whew, that was tough. Like, by far the most difficult conditions Woods has faced this year. The wind blew about 20 mph all day, from different directions, and that affected every part of the game, especially putting.

• And though the stats aren’t necessarily pretty – half the fairways hit, just 10 greens – this was BY FAR his best ball-striking round of the new year. He even said so himself. When he walked off the course, he was just four off the lead.

Full-field scores from the Honda Classic

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

• Woods had only one bad hole Thursday. It came on the par-5 third hole, his 12th of the day. He blew his driver into the right bunker. He had to lay way back, to clear the lip of the bunker. And then he tugged his third shot just barely in the greenside trap. And then his bunker shot didn’t get onto the green. Then he chipped on and missed a 4-footer. A truly ugly double bogey.

• The driver is still a concern – he found the fairway only once in five attempts. But only one of those misses was way off-line. That came on the 12th, when he double-crossed one way left.

• Though the driver is uncooperative, he has showed a lot of improvement with his 3-wood. The four times he used it, he controlled the ball flight beautifully and hit it 300-plus. His 2-iron is making a comeback, too, in a big way.

• After this round, he should have a little wiggle room Friday to make the cut, barring a blowup round. It’s playing tough, and the 36-hole cut should be over par. Tiger needs four rounds of competitive reps. If he plays like this Friday, he’ll get them. 

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 5:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.

Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.

Notables in the field:

Tiger Woods

• Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

• Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

• Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.

Rickie Fowler

• The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

• Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

• On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 

Rory McIlroy

• It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

• McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

• Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13).