Tseng brings killer instinct but with a smile

By Randall MellJune 6, 2012, 9:22 pm

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Her smile is trouble.

If you’re a fellow LPGA pro, Rolex World No. 1 Yani Tseng can wobble your knees with her smile.

“My coach told me, `Smile to the game and the game will smile to you,’” Tseng said Wednesday as she prepared to defend her title at the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club. “So that’s kind of my goal this week, try not to think too much, and not try too hard.”

Nobody plays with more joy than Tseng.

If the LPGA counted smiles per round, Tseng would lead that stat, too.

Her smile is good for the women’s game, but not necessarily for the rest of the women who play the game.

World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi says she finds it disconcerting to look over at Tseng with the pressure ratcheting up and seeing her smile as she goes into her pre-shot routine.

“It’s kind of scary,” Choi said. “She never looks nervous, or as if there’s pressure on her.”

Yeah, Tseng has her low moments, times when the game gets her down, times when that smile can’t be summoned, but she is learning to manage those moments as she grows more comfortable carrying the Rolex World No. 1 ranking.

“People don’t realize the game is more attitude than anything,” said Gary Gilchrist, Tseng’s coach. “I think a lot of girls go into a tournament with a lot of negativity. They’re not smiling on the game. That attracts all kinds of things.”

Tseng shouldn’t have trouble finding her smile at the Wegmans LPGA Championship this week, and yet Locust Hill crystallizes the challenge Tseng faces this year.

At season’s start, Tseng confessed to Gilchrist that she was stressing out over expectations. How in the world was she going to top last year? How was she going to follow up a year when she won 12 times around the world, seven of them LPGA events, two of them major championships?

Gilchrist told her a jockey can’t win a horse race if he’s always looking at what’s behind him. They talked about realistic goals, managing expectations, accepting that preparation and effort is enough, and you can’t always control luck.

“Yani, you’re a human being,” Gilchrist told her. “You’re not a machine.”

Those lessons are all in play again this week with Tseng returning to the major she won by a whopping 10 shots.

How do you top that? How do you equal last year’s runaway performance. She is staring down the same kind of questions she faced at year’s start.

“It’s hard to say I have no pressure, because there is pressure,” Tseng said. “I just try to turn that pressure into positive pressure, just to enjoy that pressure.”

Tseng overcame that stress she struggled with at year’s start. She was able to relax more after her sessions with Gilchrist, and she won three of her first five LPGA starts. But after falling short at the Kraft Nabisco again this spring, her focus is on getting her game back to the level it takes to win a major. At 23, she is still the youngest player to hold five major championship titles. She wants to become the youngest to six this week.

With a sluggish practice round Tuesday, Tseng didn’t feel great about her game. She’s coming off a T-12 finish in her last start at the Shoprite Classic. That, by the way, is the only time she hasn’t finished in the top 10 in nine events this season. Tseng, though, said she felt good about her work Wednesday.

“I feel my game is there and ready to go,” Tseng said.

That’s something Tseng can smile about, if not her competition.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.

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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.