Yani Tseng is feeling the pressure of staying No. 1

By Randall MellFebruary 8, 2012, 7:49 pm

After establishing herself as the most dominant force in golf last year, Yani Tseng confessed something to her coach this off season.

She’s nervous about her 2012 debut in this week’s LPGA season-opener.

She’s feeling some pressure to continue to dominate when the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open begins at Royal Melbourne. She’s feeling some pressure to win the event for a third consecutive time.

As Tseng, 23, prepared for the new season with coach Gary Gilchrist last month, she confronted head-on what looms as her most daunting challenge.

While the rest of women’s golf wonders how to beat her, Tseng wonders something else: How does she live up to being Yani?

How do you follow up a year where you won a dozen times around the world, including a pair of major championships to become the youngest player ever to win five majors? How do you improve on a year where you won your second Rolex Player of the Year honor in a runaway, where you led the LPGA in scoring (69.66) by almost a full shot? How do you top a year where you led the tour in money winnings ($2,921,713), doubling the total prize money of runner-up Cristie Kerr?

If Tseng wins just 10 times this year, is she slumping?

It’s an over-the-top question, but it gets at the nature of what it’s like being the best in the world. It gets at what Tseng senses are the soaring expectations that await her. Next week marks the one-year anniversary of her ascension to No. 1 in the Rolex world rankings.

While Gilchrist believes Tseng improved her swing this offseason, he sees her attitude as her greatest asset.

“The most important thing you can do is prepare mentally,” Gilchrist said. “When you’ve had such a fantastic year like Yani had, there’s more pressure to perform to that level. We talked about it. I said let’s be realistic. Let’s set realistic goals. If she tries to compare 2011 to what she’s doing in 2012, her focus will get off what she needs to do.

“If you’re a jockey out front in a horse race, you’re not going to win looking behind you.”

Gilchrist likes to remind Tseng that nobody is at her best every time she tees it up.

“It’s this way. `Yani, you’re a human being. You’re not a machine. Whatever happens, learn from it.’”

And Gilchrist also likes to remind Tseng to enjoy the journey, to seek balance in her life.

On the eve of the Women’s Australian Open, Tseng sounded at peace with the new season's challenge.

“I feel very relaxed,” Tseng said.

She is focused on the starting line, not last year’s finish line.

“Last year is over,” Tseng said. “This is a new year for me.”

Tseng begins the new season with a more efficient, more powerful swing. She and Gilchrist worked hard in the offseason on Tseng’s shoulder turn and lower body stability.

“Yani had a tendency to overturn her shoulders and get her weight left too early,” Gilchrist said.

With the help of a high-tech swing analyzer, Tseng worked on grooving a backswing that gets her more square to the target line at the top of her swing. This frees her to make a more effortless move to her left side.

“I don’t swing as hard as before,” Tseng said. “I feel I’m swinging easier and striking the ball better.”

Tseng also worked to get physically stronger.

In the final analysis, though, this season’s greatest challenge is whether she can continue to enjoy being Yani.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.