Yani Tseng is hopeful that an offseason spent with a new swing coach and trainer will help get her back on the right track.
After the round, Tseng attributed her strong play to recent work with Claude Harmon III and trainer David Donatucci.
“They just keep me so relaxed and believing in myself,” she told reporters. “I know I can do it. I just need my swing good. (And when) I swing good, I just need to be mentally very tough. So I’m working on my mental (game) and trying to be tougher and tougher out there.”
Tseng has slid all the way from No. 1 to No. 90 in the world. Last year she recorded only a pair of top-10s in 24 starts and finished 54th in earnings, with $303,127.
This event always seems to bring out the best in Tseng, however; in seven career starts, she has won twice (2011, 2012) and never finished outside the top seven.
“I feel like coming back here, it’s always the start of the season and I feel fresh and it gives me good energy,” she said.
It also helped to play the opening round alongside 19-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn, the free-swinging Thai who shared the 54-hole lead at last week’s event at Royal Melbourne. She shot 67 on Day 1.
It was an aggressive, go-for-broke style that propelled Tseng to No. 1. She sees many of the same attributes in Jutanugarn, and hopes that it’ll rub off on her own game.
When she spoke to GolfChannel.com’s Randall Mell last July, Tseng said she was gripped by self-doubt and had spent too much time focusing on her bloated scores and plummeting ranking.
“Just grip and hit it – don’t really worry about it,” Tseng said Thursday. “I think that’s how golf should be. I feel I just worry too much out there. I might actually learn something from her.”