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Emotional Tseng shares 'lonely' existence of world No. 1

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Yani Tseng’s return to her homeland Tuesday got emotional with the unveiling of an exhibit celebrating her rise to No. 1 in the world.

It got emotional with Tseng’s revelation over how lonely being the world’s best player can become.

The exhibit is on display in Taipei, home to this week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Titled “Yani’s Smile and Courage Exhibit,” it’s meant to inspire fellow Taiwanese, but it’s apparently also inspiring Tseng.

According to an LPGA report, Tseng was moved to tears Tuesday talking to reporters about the ups and downs she has experienced as the No. 1 player in the world.

“I just want to let people know this is not easy, but I’m still working really hard and doing my best to keep world No. 1 and to really enjoy the life,” Tseng said. “It’s very hard for me the past three, four months, and now it’s getting better. I wish the fans keep supporting me no matter how I play.”

Tseng made a triumphant return to Taiwan last year, winning the inaugural tournament in a five-shot runaway. She showed improved form last week, finishing third at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea. It was her first top-10 finish in five months.

Tseng said her summer woes brought back wisdom LPGA great Annika Sorenstam shared with Tseng just before Tseng gained the No. 1 ranking.

“Annika told me that world No. 1 is the loneliest place on the earth,” Tseng said. “At the time, I couldn’t feel anything. I was like, `No, I’m happy.’ I feel I’m happy as a person. I have so many friends, support from media, fans and my team. Everybody is happy, and I don’t feel anything. As it become longer at No. 1, I feel more and more pressure. Everybody is trying to grab every piece of me. When you play good, everything is good, but when you don’t play so good, everything is bad. Even when you think there are good things, they still say bad things.

“It’s very hard. At that time, I feel sad, and I feel no one knows how hard I work and how many tears. They only know the score. At that time, I feel very lonely because no one understands since they haven’t been world No. 1 before. So I’m the only one that knows this, and I now know what Annika is saying. I don’t like to say lonely. Golf is hard work.

“I love this game, and I am happy to work hard. I think that’s why I got tears, because I was very emotional.”

The Yani Exhibit features writings from Tseng’s diary, yardage books, photos and mementos. It also features a mantra: “Smile + Power: Yani.”

“A smile helps me to be brave to let me keep going forward,” Tseng said. “I use my smile through every challenge. It’s not just golf. No matter what you face to in life, just smile through it and things will go easier.”

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