Which 23 year old youngster, multiple major winner, has shook the world of golf by establishing themselves as one of the games most precocious talents and as a potential world beater in the future?
Yep, all of the above does apply to Rory McIlroy MBE, but it is often overlooked that in the women’s game, there is a softly spoken young woman who is putting even McIlroy’s achievements in the shade.
Her name is Yani Tseng and the chances are, she could well become the greatest ever female golfer in the history of the game.
This is not a claim we make lightly either. The women’s game has had its fair share of hugely talented individuals, Annika Sorenstam, Se Ri Pak, Karrie Webb, Nancy Lopez, Kathy Whitworth and Mickey Wright may all have undoubtedly earned their place in women’s golf hall of fame and Yani Tseng will soon be a name to be added to that list.
Up until April 2012, Tseng was on arguably the hottest streak ever seen in the women’s professional game. Since her first tournament win at the McDonalds LPGA Championship in 2008, her first major victory too, Tseng had been in inspired form. In the two years between 2010 and 2011 she won an incredible 17 titles, 12 in 2011 alone, and won another FOUR Major Championships.
Tseng has now won three of women’s golf four major titles, the only one that eludes her is the US Open. She has not yet won the Evian Masters, which is slated to become the fifth major on the women’s tour from next season. She has won the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open twice, and in 2011, won the LPGA Championship by an incredible 10 strokes from 2nd place Morgan Pressel.
At the start of 2012, it looked like she would confirm her place as almost untouchable on the women’s tour when she won three events within the space of the first five weeks of the new season; the Honda LPGA in Thailand on 19th Feb, followed by the RR Donnellley LPGA Founders Cup on 18th March and a week later the Kia Classic on 25th March.
Yet, just as Rory McIlroy has suffered dips in form, Tseng suddenly and inexplicably lost her way.
From April onwards, she didn’t win. Worst still, in three tournaments she didn’t make the cut and had four finishes of 46th or worse. For a player like Tseng used to challenging in the final few pairings each Sunday, this was clearly a major problem.
The player admitted recently that her loss of form had impacted on her in more ways than simply frustration on the golf course. Tseng withdrew into herself and her friends and acquaintainces noticed that the cheery young girl famous across the world for her smile, was now insular and somewhat miserable.
Others questioned whether success had gone to the 23 year old’s head, when she was pictured in the midst of the poor run of form at a number of major sporting events.
The answer, as Tseng discovered, was rediscovering her perspective.
“When I look back now, I feel that was kind of my best time,” she revealed in an interview recently.
“The last three of four months I was really trying too hard and putting too much pressure on myself… I wasn’t very happy,” she revealed.
“You always learn something from mistakes. You learn something when you don’t play well and I figure that helping people, it makes me very, very happy.
“”I want to be the best golfer in the world, but I feel like golf is not everything in my life, but I want to keep doing it, keep working hard, do the best I can on the tour and give back to the tour.”
Towards the end of the season, Tseng found her swing again, challenging in several tournaments into the final day and while that elusive win wasn’t forthcoming, she managed to hold onto her World Number 1 ranking ahead of Na Yeon Choi, Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park.
There are many similarities between McIlroy and Tseng, both are 23, blessed with prodigious talent, multiple major winners and very much in the public eye and just as the male game may have found a superstar to lead the game into the next millennia, so too the women’s game may just have stumbled across a rare Taiwanese gem.
Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia (Creative Commons License) and Yani Tseng’s Facebook page.