Tseng attempting to complete career grand slam

By Associated PressJuly 5, 2011, 9:36 pm

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – There was a time when Yani Tseng shied away from socializing on the golf course.

Usually outgoing, the top-ranked Taiwanese golfer was so insecure about her broken English that she would stay away from others in her group at LPGA events, rather than even attempt a conversation.

These days, Tseng’s English has become almost as polished as her golf game.

And with it, even more confidence.

The charismatic and well-spoken Tseng has become the face of women’s golf – a title even bestowed on her by idol and friend Annika Sorenstam.

The 22-year-old is dominating like her childhood hero, too, capturing the LPGA Championship by 10 strokes two weeks ago to become the youngest player to claim four LPGA majors.

This weekend, Tseng can finish off her career grand slam by winning the U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, a very long and challenging course.

Even with so much at stake, Tseng hardly feels any added pressure.

For that, she can thank Sorenstam, who’s easing her mind by giving her some pointers and tips about the course. Sorenstam won the 1995 U.S. Open at The Broadmoor, the first of her 10 major titles.

“We have good wine and we chat a little bit,” said Tseng, who bought Sorenstam’s house in Florida two years ago and has been quickly filling it up with trophies. “She tells me she enjoys watching me play.”

Especially at majors, where Tseng has typically thrived. Of her eight career LPGA wins, half have been on the biggest of stages.

“I know at a major, you’re not going to be shooting a lot of low scores,” Tseng said. “You just need to be patient. If I make bogeys, no worries.

“If it’s a normal tournament, I worry too much.”

Part of Tseng’s transformation on the course has had to do with her confidence off of it.

No longer does she feel self-conscious in a social setting, especially now with a solid grasp of the language.

Just two years ago, she wasn’t her carefree self, hardly interacting with fans or engaging in banter with her fellow competitors.

She wanted to, but the language barrier made it too difficult.

Tseng has been taking language lessons in Orlando, Fla., which has provided a big boost in self-esteem.

“I like people to talk to me,” Tseng said. “Hopefully now I don’t talk too much.”

Tseng has certainly become the talk of the tour, ruling the sport like Sorenstam once did – maybe even at a greater level. Sorenstam was 24 when she won her first major.

“In the future, I want to be like her,” Tseng said. “She’s done so many great things for golf.”

This week, Tseng is trying to figure out this difficult course, one that’s more than 7,000 yards long, making it the longest ever for a women’s U.S. Open.

The tricky greens that break away from the mountains don’t fluster Tseng.

The thick rough and playing at higher elevation hardly intimidate her, either.

Tseng believes this course favors her game.

These days, what course doesn’t?

But it doesn’t figure to be a cakewalk. The field features reigning champion Paula Creamer, along with ’07 Open winner Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis.

Betsy King will compete in her first tour event in nearly six years after qualifying through sectionals.

At 55, King said her main goal isn’t so much finishing in the top 10 as making the cut, especially given the way Tseng and other up-and-comers are striking the ball.

“(Tseng) hits it a long way and she keeps it in play,” said King, who won the U.S. Open in 1989 and ’90. “From everything that I’ve heard her say and read about her, she obviously wants to be No. 1. She has achieved that.”

Wie is definitely familiar with Tseng’s game. The two met up in the finals of the 2004 Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships, with Tseng winning 1-up.

“She’s gotten, you know, I mean, obviously a lot better,” Wie said. “She has all-around a very solid game, which I think makes her play well.”

Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Wie is still searching for her first win at a major. She insisted the pressure isn’t mounting.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. But that’s really how everyone’s career is going,” Wie said. “I’ve been proud of myself that I kept with it and kept trying to get better.

“Every year, I feel like I’m getting more and more motivated to win and do better, to become a better player.”

The same can be said of Tseng, who’s attempting to boost the profile of women’s golf in Taiwan the same way Se Ri Pak led the way for young golfers in South Korea.

“I’m trying to,” Tseng said. “Because I know Taiwan is not as popular with golf like Korea or Japan or here. I think it’s getting better.”

Her performance and personality are paving the way.

“You never think there is going to be another Mickey Wright or another Annika Sorenstam or Lorena (Ochoa),” Juli Inkster said. “And all of a sudden Yani comes around.

“She’s got a lot of passion for the game. She wants to be the best. She wants to get better. If she stays healthy, she could probably break a lot of Annika’s records.”

 

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More than form, Garcia brings the Ryder Cup intangibles

By Will GraySeptember 26, 2018, 10:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Among the eight men who arrived at the Ryder Cup thanks to a captain’s pick, Tiger Woods will garner the most attention. Ian Poulter will receive the most raucous applause. But with his on-course credentials suddenly lacking, it’s Sergio Garcia who is under the biggest microscope.

The Spaniard boasts an impressive resume in the biennial matches, having stormed onto the scene at Brookline in 1999 and has returned seven times since. But after enduring one of the most difficult seasons of his career, even he had doubts about whether he’d have a spot this week at Le Golf National.

Let Garcia explain it and suddenly the Ryder Cup takes on the form of an ethereal being.

“You know, when things don’t go exactly as you plan or as you want it, and you are playing a lot in the summer and you keep missing cuts by one, it feels like it’s kind of getting a little farther away,” Garcia said. “You still kind of see it, but it starts to get too far away, and you want it to come back.”

Surely when Garcia left Augusta National wearing a green jacket last April, his standing on Team Europe was anything but in doubt. So, too, when he won in January in Singapore to return to the top 10 in the world rankings.


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But then there was his Masters title defense, complete with a cringe-inducing 13 on the 15th hole in the opening round. He missed that cut, then the U.S. Open cut as well. By the time he slammed the trunk at Bellerive he had missed five straight major cuts and was en route to missing the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career.

The form that guided him to a career year in 2017 had vanished in a matter of weeks, leaving his Paris plans in limbo as Thomas Bjorn combed through worthy candidates with only four picks at his disposal.

But the burly Dane ended up adding Garcia to his roster, giving him a chance to build upon his impressive 19-11-7 individual record. Although according to Bjorn, Garcia’s spot on the squad was as much for what he can do in the team room as how he might perform on the course in front of thousands of fans.

“I think just everyone loves Sergio, at least in our team room. He has been the heartbeat of our team for a while, and he has been a constant,” said Rory McIlroy. “He never lets the environment or the atmosphere get too serious, and I think that’s one of the big things about European Ryder Cups over the past few years.”

Nearly two decades removed from his breakthrough duel with Tiger Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship, Garcia has experienced on-course lows before. His form also disappeared in 2010, when he was relegated to a vice-captain role on Colin Montgomerie’s victorious team at Celtic Manor.

But since returning to an elite level, it’s never been quite as lean as it was this summer. Garcia missed seven of 11 cuts through the heart of the season, with a T-8 finish at this week’s venue during the French Open proving to be a lone bright spot.

After he was selected by Bjorn earlier this month, Garcia opted to add last week’s Portugal Masters to his schedule to ensure he didn’t enter the matches off a six-week layoff. That trip netted a T-7 finish, offering some promise that perhaps he would be able to bring some game with him to Paris. But it still left him 28th in the world rankings, behind every American participant and ahead of only Ian Poulter and Thorbjorn Olesen among his European teammates.

Garcia’s spotty 2018 led some to draw parallels to 2016, when Darren Clarke selected Lee Westwood for his veteran presence and despite a lack of recent form. That selection backfired in grand fashion, as Westwood went 0-3 including a missed 3-footer on the last green of his Saturday fourball match that cost the Euros half a point.

But Garcia doesn’t appear to have any apprehension about how he fits on the team this week, a veteran presence on a squad that boasts five rookies. In fact, the lack of apprehension is apparently one of his strongest attributes amid one of the biggest pressure-cookers the game has to offer.

It has also helped Garcia to embrace a role that will extend beyond his win-loss record.

“I think that probably, to be totally honest, is one of the reasons why the vice captains and the captain decided to have me on the team,” Garcia said. “What I’m going to do is just do what I do best, and try to make sure that everyone feels good, comfortable, happy, enjoying themselves. And if we can do that, then it’s much easier for everyone to play their best game.”

Once the youthful visage of the next generation, Garcia is now one of the elder statesmen for the Europeans. His presence here bridges a gap between eras, considering he faced American captain Jim Furyk during singles play in his 1999 debut.

But while the hair may have thinned and the face might bear a few extra creases, Garcia retains a familiar twinkle in his eye whenever the Ryder Cup is at stake. It’s visible again this week, even if the heartbeat of the home team ends up making his biggest impact behind closed doors.

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Furyk on Tiger-Phil pairing: 'Probably not too likely'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 26, 2018, 10:40 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – So much for the possibility of a Tiger-Phil pairing.

A day after Mickelson said that both he and Woods would “welcome” the opportunity to team up 14 years after their disastrous Ryder Cup partnership, U.S. captain Jim Furyk all but squashed the idea Wednesday.

“I guess nothing’s out of the realm,” Furyk said during his news conference. “I think they both mentioned it would be a lot better pairing than it was in the past. I won’t ever say it wouldn’t happen, but it’s probably not too likely.”


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Woods and Mickelson have grown closer since they both were part of the Ryder Cup task force. In 2004, U.S. captain Hal Sutton made the unprecedented move of pairing the top two players in the world – at that time, rivals who were not particularly close – to disastrous effect, as they went 0-2 together en route to a blowout American loss.

Mickelson said he’d welcome another pairing with Woods, then added, “I do have an idea of what Captain Furyk is thinking, yeah.”

And apparently he’s thinking no.

Furyk made similar remarks earlier this year, when he said that putting Woods and Mickelson together again "wouldn't be a good idea as a captain."

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Reed match taught McIlroy the need to conserve energy

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:18 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – One of the most memorable Ryder Cup singles matches in recent history was also one of the most exhausting.

Rory McIlroy was asked on Wednesday at Le Golf National about his singles bout with Patrick Reed two years ago at Hazeltine National, when the duo combined for eight birdies and an eagle through eight frenzied holes.

“I could play it for nine holes, and then it suddenly hit me,” said McIlroy, who was 5 under through eight holes but played his final 10 holes in 2 over par. “The level sort of declined after that and sort of reached its crescendo on the eighth green, and the last 10 holes wasn't quite as good.”


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In retrospect McIlroy said the match, which he lost, 1 down, was educational and he realized that maintaining that level of emotion over 18 holes isn’t realistic.

“It looked tiring to have to play golf like that for three days,” he said. “I learnt a lot from that and learnt that it's good to get excited and it's good to have that, but at the same time, if I need and have to be called upon to play a late match on Sunday or whatever it is, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine on Sunday, and it cost me.”

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U.S. team gives Tiger 'cold shoulder' after Tour Championship win

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 10:08 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods was one of the final members of Team USA to make it to the team room late Sunday in Atlanta after his travel plans were delayed by his victory at the Tour Championship.

As the team waited, captain Jim Furyk concocted a plan for Woods.

“I ran into Jim Furyk and he said, ‘We were thinking about giving Tiger the cold shoulder like they do in baseball when the guy hits his first home run.’ He asked, ‘Do you think Tiger will be OK with that?’” Woods’ caddie Joe LaCava told Ryder Cup Radio on Sirius/XM. “I was like, ‘Of course he would. He’s got a sense of humor.’”


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The U.S. team had plenty to cheer on Sunday with vice captain Steve Stricker also winning on the PGA Tour Champions. But it was Woods’ reception following his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first in five years that provided the best reaction.

“Tiger shows up about a half-hour later and is looking for some high-fives from everybody and they wouldn’t give him the time of day. They weren’t even looking at him, they all have their backs to him,” LaCava said. “He’s looking at me like what’s going on? He’s not a guy who is looking for fanfare, but these are his boys. He’s looking for 11 guys to run up and give him a good hug.”

LaCava said the team ignored Woods for about two minutes before breaking the silence with cheers and congratulations.