A winning argument


ORLANDO, Fla. – Yani Tseng’s winning streak goes beyond the impressive numbers.

Tseng said Wednesday that one of the benefits of her improved English is her ability to win arguments with her English-speaking coach and caddie. She said it with a playful smile. It’s a smile that accompanies a sense of humor the native of Taiwan is more easily sharing with American galleries now.

“I’ve been working on my English, same as my golf,” Tseng said on the eve of the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Championship at Grand Cypress Resort. “I remember, four years ago, sitting here, probably saying nothing, but now I can talk more, tell my story, my goals. It’s not just good for me. It’s good for everybody.”

Tseng will tee it up at Thursday’s start of the CME Group Titleholders looking to win her 12th worldwide title and eighth LPGA title this year. Her run as the Rolex World No. 1 has reached 40 consecutive weeks, and she’s already locked up the Rolex Player of the Year title for the second consecutive year. She has also clinched her first Vare Trophy for low scoring average.

Through her rocket-like ascent, Tseng, 22, is winning more than tournaments. She is winning respect for her hard work in trying to connect better with American audiences. She has a home at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla., but she wasn’t always comfortable expressing herself to American friends. Folks closest to her believe improved English skills have helped her adapt to the demands of being the No. 1 player in the world with so much of her time spent in the United States.

Tseng’s teasing nature, her sense of humor, comes out more easily now. English, she cracks, has helped her win more.

“I can speak better with my coach and my caddie, and now we can fight,” Tseng said. “Before, when we fought, I always lost, but now, with my English, I can fight with them. I can tell my side. I can tell them what I’m thinking.”

Gary Gilchrist, Tseng’s coach, believes improved English makes Tseng a healthier player because she’s able to be herself, even among English-speaking friends.

Her advisor, Ernie Huang, says Tseng is an outgoing personality. Connecting with people is important to her.

“I told Yani I would hire her an English tutor last year, but she didn’t want a tutor,” Huang said. “She wanted to be in a classroom with other students. Her purpose wasn’t just learning English. She liked the atmosphere of being in school. She enjoys interacting. It’s part of her personality. She’s a fun-loving kid.

“There’s confidence in that. When she first came here, she didn’t speak much English. She used her smile, her body language, to express herself.”

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan likes the personality Tseng’s communicating to a growing fan base.

“If you ask the No. 1 player in the world how she is good, she’ll say, `Because I stay happy on the golf course,’” Whan said. “I don’t know how she does that. She focuses on positive stuff. What a great message for everybody, including the commissioner, to follow.”

Tseng’s message gets communicated beyond golf shots now among English speaking audiences.