Tseng runs away in winning LPGA Championship

Tseng runs away in winning LPGA Championship

Yani Tseng won the LPGA Championship by an astounding ten strokes to capture her fourth major title at the age of 22.
Kevin Rivoli/AP

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — When Yani Tseng bought idol Annika Sorenstam’s home in Florida two years ago, she wondered how she’d ever fill the huge trophy case that came with it.

At the rate Tseng’s going, the world’s best female player might need to add another wing.

“Yes, I think so,” Tseng said. “It’s very lucky to buy her house now.”

By winning the LPGA Championship in dominating style Sunday, the 22-year-old from Taiwan became the youngest to win four LPGA majors. That’s better than Se Ri Pak, who won her fourth at 24, and well ahead of Sorenstam, who was 24 when she claimed the first of her 10 majors – the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open.

Sorenstam’s a believer in calling Tseng “the new face of the LPGA,” during a phone interview with Golf Channel while the final round was being broadcast

And no one’s in a position to argue after Tseng eclipsed the field in closing with a 6-under-66 for a 19-under 269 at Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester. She won by 10 strokes, and matched the LPGA record for lowest score in relation to par at a major that was set three previous times. Cristie Kerr shot 269 on this same course to win the LPGA Championship a year ago by 12 strokes, while Dottie Pepper (1999 Kraft Nabisco) and Karen Stupples (2004 Women’s British Open) also finished at 19 under.

Morgan Pressel (71) finished second. Kerr (69), Suzann Pettersen (67) and Paula Creamer (69) tied for third at 8 under.

“Pretty unbelievable,” said Kerr, who rallied late with a birdie on No. 16 and an eagle on 17. “Yani’s doing what I did last year. Obviously, it’s hard to beat. I’m not surprised. Yani’s a great player.”

And Kerr saw it coming after first playing a round with Tseng in South Korea seven years ago.

“We knew she was going to be good. I didn’t know she would be this good,” Kerr said. “She is pretty dang good.”

It was Tseng’s eighth career LPGA Tour victory, second in a row and third of the season. She has three other victories this year, sweeping the Australian Open and Masters and winning in Taiwan.

Tseng won her second LPGA championship, after winning it as a rookie in 2008, and has claimed three of the tour’s last six majors. She also moved into a tie for 15th among women with four majors, joining a group of six others, including Laura Davies and Meg Mallon.

“It’s very special,” Tseng said. “Now I’m thinking about a grand slam.”

Missing only a U.S. Open title victory, Tseng will have an opportunity to complete her career slam in two weeks at Colorado Springs, Colo.

Claiming $375,000 this weekend, Tseng went wire-to-wire as the tournament leader after opening with rounds of 66, 70 and 67. In holding one-shot leads after each of the first two rounds, Tseng began running away from the field on Saturday in building a five-shot edge.

She then doubled that lead by the time she hit the turn on Sunday after reeling off five birdies on holes 2 through 8. That left Tseng setting her sights on shooting 20 under.

“I was like, what’s a new goal for me?” Tseng said. “And that’s why I told myself I wanted to set a record, to make 20 under.”

She had her chance on 18, but missed on a 12-foot birdie putt.

Wearing a smile for much of the day, Tseng raised her arms and tipped her hat as she was greeted by the gallery upon arriving at the 18th green. Upon arriving at the media tent for her news conference, Tseng took the podium and put her arms around the championship trophy, saying, “Yeah, now I can touch this.”

The comment was in reference to Tseng making the mistake of grabbing the Kraft Nabisco trophy on the first tee before the final round in April. She then proceeded to squander a two-stroke lead and finished second to Stacy Lewis. On Sunday, Tseng barely paid any attention to the trophy before teeing off.

“I didn’t even see it,” she said.

Tseng finished with 27 birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. She hit 38 of 56 fairways and 57 of 72 greens in regulation.

The best part of Tseng’s day, might have been the text she received from Sorenstam before the final round began.

“She texted me, ‘Great playing. Bring the trophy home,'” Tseng said. “I was smiling, saying, ‘Yeah, I will.'”

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