The Games Next Dominant Force


2007 Kraft Nabisco ChampionshipRANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Somebody better step up and stop Yani Tseng Sunday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Somebody better step up before it’s too late.

Because you can see what’s happening in the year’s first major championship.

Tseng’s momentum and confidence are swiftly transforming her into the game’s next dominant force.

If today’s players don’t want Tseng to rule the game the way Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa did, they better find an answer in the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship. They better find an answer because Tseng could be better than Sorenstam or Ochoa.

In fact, Tseng could be better than Nancy Lopez or Pat Bradley . . .

Better than Kathy Whitworth or Patty Berg . . .

Gasp, maybe better than Babe Zaharias or Mickey Wright . . .

If somebody doesn’t step up and stop Tseng from winning the Kraft in back-to-back years, she might be on her way to being the best player the women’s game has ever seen.

Yeah, I can hear you snickering.

It’s too much, too soon. It’s over the top. For crying out loud, she’s only 22!

That’s precisely the point. She’s only 22.

If Tseng wins, it will be her fourth major championship triumph. It will be her third major championship title in the last five majors, her fourth in the last 12.

Tiger Woods didn’t get to that major championship stratosphere that fast. Neither did Jack Nicklaus, nor Bobby Jones.

Nobody in the women’s game has, either.

If Tseng wins, it will be her fifth worldwide title already this year.

Tseng claimed the No. 1 Rolex Women’s World Ranking seven weeks ago, and she looked Saturday as if she plans to stay there a long time with the flawless performance she put up at Mission Hills Country Club’s Dinah Shore Tournament course.

Three shots down to Stacy Lewis starting the third round, Tseng needed just seven holes to catch her.

Tseng birdied three of her first seven on the way to a 6-under-par 66, the only bogey free round of the day, and the best round of the day.

“It seems like every time I play with her, she plays like that,” Lewis said. “She’s playing great right now. It’s hard, because she’s got a pretty good chance of making birdie almost every hole.”

While Lewis wasn’t at her best, she wasn’t bad. She scrambled admirably, making a single bogey all day on a tough golf course.

“I played pretty aggressive,” Tseng said.

You can envision Tseng running away with this on Sunday, she’s playing so well.

“I started very good this year,” Tseng said. “Every tournament, I keep building confidence. I’m trying not to lose that confidence.”

While you could see Tseng running away with the Kraft title, you could also find reasons to believe somebody will step up and challenge her.

Nobody was waving the white flag Saturday on the back nine.

Morgan Pressel pitched in at the 13th hole during a run of three consecutive birdies to get within four shots. Angela Stanford holed a bunker shot at the 17th in a run of three consecutive birdies. Michelle Wie charged with four birdies in a six-hole stretch before missing a 2-footer at the 17th.

“I did this before,” Tseng said of winning the Kraft Nabisco. “I just want to do it again.”

And again and again and again . . . if somebody doesn’t stop her.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell