Tseng looks to clean house again this year

By Doug FergusonFebruary 3, 2012, 9:25 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Yani Tseng has a tradition on Chinese New Year to give her house a thorough cleaning. She decided to start with the trophy cabinet, which was no small project. A photo she posted on Facebook shows a cabinet crowded with crystal.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan already has won five majors, the most of any golfer that age.

She is coming off a blockbuster season in which she won 12 times around the world, including the first four tournaments she played. She earned nearly $3 million on the LPGA Tour last year, more than the next two players combined. And she is No. 1 in the world by a large margin that only Tiger Woods could ever appreciate.

Tseng left her home at Lake Nona on Friday for what figures to be a tough encore.

“If I do the things I’m doing now, I think I will get better,” Tseng said. “I’ve been working on my swing, the physical side, I work on my English, everything. I think it’s going to help a lot. I need to do the mental and prepare and not put too much pressure on myself. It’s hard to do again. Twelve wins. Wow.”

Wow, indeed.

Tseng will be defending her title when the LPGA season gets under way next week with the Women’s Australian Open, to be played at Royal Melbourne just three months after the Presidents Cup.

Only two other women have won more in one season – Annika Sorenstam in 2002, who won 11 times on the LPGA and twice in Europe; and Mickey Wright in 1963, who won 13 times on the LPGA.

About the only thing Tseng lacks is attention.

In voting by sports editors for The Associated Press female athlete of the year, Tseng finished a distant fourth behind U.S. soccer players Abby Wambach and Hope Solo and UConn basketball star Maya Moore.

Golf magazine made U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy its player of the year, prompting LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan to write the magazine a mild rebuke, pointing out Tseng’s accomplishments in 2011 and suggesting that if her record had belonged to a male golfer, it would have been an easy choice. The magazine published his letter.

“It just felt like 1985 when I read that,” Whan said. “I like Rory. He’s a fun kid to watch. He’s like a young Tiger. He collapsed at the Masters, he had an unbelievable U.S. Open. I got that. But are we that much in a hurry to anoint the next one? She would never ask me to do that. I don’t think she cares. She just smiles and hits it 285.”

Women’s golf has struggled to get attention. Even after Sorenstam won 13 times in 2002, it took her playing in the Colonial – the first woman in 58 years to play on the PGA Tour – before she became a one-name star.

Tseng is coming off a year that attracted that kind of attention. The Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour offered her an exemption, but Tseng turned it down. She won’t rule out a shot on the PGA Tour, though she has more she wants to achieve.

“She hits it like a guy,” Juli Inkster said.

Tseng doesn’t behave like a PGA Tour player, though. At the season-ending Titleholders last November in Orlando, she invited the media to her home for a party, which she organized herself.

“I just feel I want to give something back,” Tseng said. “The media is working hard to promote the LPGA. And I’m from Asia; I’m not American. Sometimes it’s very tough for you guys. It’s not easy. I just feel like everyone is working hard, and we should have a party to celebrate the end of the year. Just have fun.”

At one point during the party, when the conversation turned to Universal Studios, Tseng went to her room and returned wearing a Harry Potter costume.

The attention she receives at home is entirely different.

Whan was in Taiwan last year for the LPGA Taiwan Championship at Sunrise, a course near where Tseng grew up. The gallery was enormous, filling up space on every hole. The pressure was as intense as it had been all year, even when Tseng won the Women’s British Open at Carnoustie or the LPGA Championship, her two majors.

She wound up winning by five shots.

But it was a pre-tournament party that Whan remembers the most.

“It was spooky. It was Michael Jordan, Game 7 kind of stuff,” he said. “You couldn’t move. They had to stop letting people in. They do this thing where somebody says something, and if they point a glass at you, you drink. Everybody was pointing the glass at Yani. She’s playing tomorrow and I’m thinking, ‘I need to get her out of here.’

“And she won it going away,” he said. “Most players would have felt an unbelievable burden. She looked like she was going to a wedding. She looked the same as if you’d see her in an airport flying home from the British. There’s not a lot of highs and lows with her. She just smiles her way through everything.”

Tseng’s first LPGA win was a major, the LPGA Championship in 2008 when she was a 19-year-old rookie. She recalls a time when she stressed over every bogey, every missed putt. That’s when she picked up some advice from Sorenstam, her hero.

“The end of my second year, I talked to Annika, and she helped me set goals,” Tseng said. “My first question was, ‘How can I be No. 1?’ Annika said, ‘You can’t think of No. 1. If you want to be No. 1, you have to win more tournaments. How do you win more tournaments? You have the lowest score. How do you make lowest score? Hit on fairway, hit on green. And that’s how you work.”’

She worked hard enough to become LPGA player of the year the last two seasons and No. 1 in the world by a mile.

Tseng is playing the first three weeks in Australia, Thailand and Singapore. The LPGA’s domestic schedule does not start until March in Arizona. If there is one tournament on her mind already, it’s the U.S. Women’s Open, the major keeping her from a career Grand Slam.

'I would not say it’s my goal,” she said. But then she smiled and added, “But it’s always what I’m thinking about.”

She surely would find room in the trophy cabinet for that one.

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Alabama faces 'buzzsaw' Arizona for NCAA title

By Ryan LavnerMay 23, 2018, 2:00 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – There was no way Laura Ianello could sleep Monday night, not after that dramatic ending at the NCAA Women’s Championship. So at 12:15 a.m., the Arizona coach held court in the laundry room at the Holiday Inn, washing uniforms and munching on mozzarella sticks and fried chicken strips from Sonic, her heart still racing.

Ianello got only three hours of sleep, and who could blame her?

The Wildcats had plummeted down the team standings during the final round of stroke-play qualifying, and were 19 over par for the day, when junior transfer Bianca Pagdanganan arrived on the 17th hole.

“Play the best two holes of your life,” Ianello told her, and so Pagdanganan did, making a solid par on 17 and then ripping a 6-iron from 185 yards out of a divot to 30 feet. There was a massive leaderboard positioned to the right of the par-5 18th green, but Pagdanganan never peeked. The only way for Arizona to force a play-five, count-four playoff with Baylor and reach match play was to sink the putt, and when it dropped, the Wildcats lost their minds, shrieking and jumping over the ropes and hugging anyone in sight.

Watching the action atop the hill, Alabama coach Mic Potter shook his head.

“I was really glad we didn’t win the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed,” he said, “because they’re a buzzsaw with a lot of momentum.”

Given new life, Arizona dispatched Baylor by three strokes in the playoff, then turned its attention to top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Facing two first-team All-Americans, the Wildcats beat them, too, continuing the curse of the medalist. In the afternoon, worried that the adrenaline would wear off, Ianello watched her squad make quick work of Stanford, 4-1.

“They’ve got a lot of great momentum, a lot of great team energy,” Stanford coach Anne Walker said. “They thought they were going home, and now they’ve got a chip on their shoulder. They’re playing with an edge.”

After a marathon doubleheader Tuesday at Karsten Creek, Arizona now has a date with Alabama in the final match of this NCAA Championship.

And the Wildcats better rest up.

Alabama looks unstoppable.

“They’re rolling off a lot of momentum right now,” Ianello said. “We know Alabama is a good team. But they’re super excited and pumped. It’s not the high of making it [Monday]; now they’ve got a chance to win. They know they have to bring it.”

Even fully rested, Arizona will be a significant underdog against top-ranked Alabama.

After failing to reach match play each of the past two years, despite being the top overall seed, the Tide wouldn’t be stopped from steamrolling their competition this time.

They roughed up Kent State, 4-1, in the quarterfinals, then frontloaded their lineup with three first-team All-Americans – Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight – in their semifinal tilt against Southern Cal.

Potter said that he was just trying to play the matchups, but the move sent a clear signal.

“It gets pretty tedious when you never miss fairways and hole a lot of putts and your opponent knows that you’re not going to spray it,” Potter said. “That’s tough to match up against.”

They breezed to the first three points, draining any drama out of the semifinals. Of the 99 holes that Bama’s Big 3 played Tuesday, they trailed after only two.

“We’re always consistent,” Stephenson said, “and that’s exactly what you need in match play. Someone has to go really low to beat us.”

That Arizona even has that chance to dethrone the Tide seemed inconceivable a few months ago.

The Wildcats had a miserable fall and were ranked 39th at the halfway point of the season. On Christmas Day, one of the team’s best players, Krystal Quihuis, sent a text to Ianello that she was turning pro. Once she relayed the news, the team felt abandoned, but it also had a newfound motivation.

“They wanted to prove that they’re a great team, even without her,” Ianello said.

It also was a case of addition by subtraction: Out went the individual-minded Quihuis and in came Yu-Sang Ho, an incoming freshman whom Ianello described as a “bright, shining light.”

Because incorporating a top-tier junior at the midway point can be intimidating, Ianello organized a lively team retreat at the Hilton El Conquistador in Tucson, where they made vision boards and played games blindfolded.

They laughed that weekend and all throughout the spring – or at least until Pagnanganan made that last-ditch eagle putt Monday. Then tears streamed down Ianello’s face.

Folding uniforms after midnight, she regaled Alabama assistant coach Susan Rosenstiel with stories from their emotional day on the cut line, not even considering that they might face each other two days later for a national title. She was too delirious to ponder that.

“I feel like a new mother with a newborn baby,” Ianello said. “But we’re going off of adrenaline. This team has all the momentum they need to get it done.”

Yes, somehow, the last team into the match-play field might soon be the last team standing.

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Pairings, tee times set for championship match

By Jay CoffinMay 23, 2018, 1:02 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – Alabama coach Mic Potter has three first-team All-Americans on this team. It’s little surprise that all three are going out first in the Crimson Tide’s championship match against Arizona Wednesday at Karsten Creek.

Potter tinkered with his lineup in both the quarterfinal victory over Kent State and the semifinal win over USC. But with the NCAA title on the line, this one was a no brainer.

“We don’t want to sacrifice anything,” Potter said. “We just want to give ourselves a chance to win every match.”

Arizona kept its lineup the same all day Tuesday in defeating Pac-12 foes UCLA and Stanford in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. That meant junior Bianca Pagdanganan, the Wildcats grittiest player this week, was in the last match of the day. She won twice.

Now, with all the marbles riding on the championship match, Arizona coach Laura Ianello moved Pagdanganan up to the third spot to assure that her match is key to the final outcome.

Junior Haley Moore, Arizona’s best player all year, is in the fifth spot and will face Alabama senior Lakareber Abe.

“Win or lose tomorrow, this has been a helluva ride,” Ianello said.

Alabama (2) vs. Arizona (8)

3:25PM ET: Lauren Stephenson (AL) vs. Yu-Sang Hou (AZ)

3:35PM ET: Kristen Gillman (AL) vs. Gigi Stoll (AZ)

3:45PM ET: Cheyenne Knight (AL) vs. Bianca Pagdanganan (AZ)

3:55PM ET: Angelica Moresco (AL) vs. Sandra Nordaas (AZ)

4:05PM ET: Lakareber Abe (AL) vs. Haley Moore (AZ)

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Women's NCAA finals: Arizona vs. Alabama

By Jay CoffinMay 22, 2018, 11:49 pm

STILLWATER, Okla. – It’s the SEC vs. the Pac 12 for the women’s NCAA Championship; Alabama vs. Arizona, to be more specific.

Both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats cruised in their respective semifinal matches Tuesday at Karsten Creek. Alabama easily beat USC, 3-1-1; Arizona defeated match-play juggernaut Stanford, 4-1.

Alabama’s top three players, Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight were unstoppable forces in both matches on the marathon day. Stacked in the top three positions in the semifinals all three won their matches on the 17th hole, making the last two matches inconsequential.

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Scoring and TV times

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Full coverage

Arizona, the eighth seed, won as decisively as second-seeded Alabama, but needed a miracle to be in this position in the first place.

Junior Bianca Pagdanganan drained a 30-footer for eagle on the last hole of stroke play on Monday to get the Wildcats into a playoff against Baylor, which they won on the second hole. Then on Tuesday, presumably running on fumes, they downed top-seeded UCLA in the morning, then crushed Pac-12 foe Stanford in the afternoon.

Pagdanganan, Gigi Stoll and Hayley Moore each won both matches for Arizona on the hot, draining day.

“I don’t want to let them down so I do my best to rise to the occasion,” Pagdanganan said.

Said Arizona coach Laura Ianello: “How many players, when you tell them under pressure that you need them, can really handle it,” Ianello said about Pagdanganan. “This kid can.”

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:30 pm

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals were contested Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live finals action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.


TV Times (all times ET):

4-8PM: Match-play finals (Click here to watch live)