Tseng on top of the world

By Randall MellMarch 27, 2012, 11:36 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Yani Tseng is taking major championship preparation to yet another level.

She confessed Tuesday that she has been practicing her Poppie’s Pond leap in her swimming pool back at her Orlando, Fla., home.

The Kraft Nabisco Championship winner’s leap into the pond is among golf’s most popular celebratory traditions.

That kind of preparation may sound presumptuous, but it really wasn’t delivered that way. It came off as classic Yani, a good-natured 23-year-old’s giggling answer to a leading question about whether she was happy with her leap when she won her first and only Kraft Nabisco two seasons ago.

“I thought I jumped pretty cool two years ago,” Tseng said Tuesday. “But my friends said it wasn’t a good jump.”

So she went to work on her diver’s form. That’s classic Yani, too. Never satisfied. Always looking to top herself. And trying to have fun with the whole improvement process.

“Maybe if I have the lead on the last hole, I’ll be thinking about what’s the best pose for me to jump, some crazy move,” she said.

While you might wonder how players in the locker room will react to that, Morgan Pressel can’t blame the world No. 1 for having fun with her quest to win another major. Pressel wondered if Tseng is beginning to find winning too easy.

“Right now, Yani doesn’t have as much competition as maybe she even wants,” said Pressel, who won the Kraft Nabisco five years ago. “So we all need to practice a little harder, and we need to go out there and challenge her more because right now she’s beating us pretty badly.”

It’s hard to believe the Rolex Women’s World Rankings was a musical-chairs proposition a little more than a year ago, with players taking turns trying to succeed Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam as the game’s best. In the 13 months Tseng has reigned as No. 1, she has more than doubled the average point total of No. 2, currently held by Na Yeon Choi.

“She never looks nervous, or as if there’s any pressure on her,” Choi said. “She has a lot of confidence right now. I don’t know who can stop her.”

Tseng has won three of five LPGA starts this year, nine of her last 19. She has won 10 LPGA titles since the start of 2011, 15 worldwide titles in that time.

“It’s almost to where if you can beat Yani, you’ll win,” said David Leadbetter, coach to Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie. “Right now, even when her game’s a little off, she's still in winning mode. It’s the Tiger syndrome she’s got going.”

In major championships, Tseng is even tougher to beat. She has won four of the last eight majors. If not for a stumble in the final round of last year’s Kraft Nabisco, that would be five of the last eight. Tseng took a two-shot lead into the final round against Stacy Lewis and lost their head-to-head showing.

The defeat motivated Tseng’s run of titles last year.

She placed an Angry Birds statue in her trophy case where she would have placed the Kraft Nabisco prize.

A glimpse at the birds brought back the angst of losing that final-round lead.

“Stacy played very well, and my emotional control wasn't very good,” Tseng said. “I wasn't in good control of myself. I had been very stressful, hitting a bad shot, hitting a bad putt, and I wasn't being as patient as I am right now. So, I'm learning from that week.

“But it took me a couple weeks to go through that, because I was crying after the round, even after a couple days, when I thought about it. So I learned from that. I brought it to the next few tournaments, and I played great, and I think that's a very important thing for me. I didn't win, but I learned something from it.”

With her victory last week, Tseng moved to 23 LPGA Hall of Fame points, within four of qualifying, though she must be a 10-year LPGA member to be officially inducted. The two points that come with winning a major this week would bump Tseng to within two points. Karrie Webb was 25 when she became the youngestplayer to qualify for the Hall of Fame.

Tseng is reaching heights no player this young has ever reached. At 22, she was the first player to get to five major championships.

“I’ve been watching Yani, because she is the No. 1 player in the world, and I want to see how she plays,” Hall of Famer Pat Bradley said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a past No. 1, or how old you are, you want to see how solid the top player’s game is today. And Yani is solid, in every aspect of her game, including her attitude. I love her attitude. It helps her let go of bad rounds. It makes life easier.”

And a lot tougher for Tseng’s foes.

Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

“Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

“I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

PGA Tour:

The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.

LPGA:

We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.


Full-field scores from the Joburg Open


Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm