Tseng off to fast start after breakout season


POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

Going from No. 138 in the world to second may be easier for Yani Tseng than tracking down top-ranked Lorena Ochoa, but that doesn't mean the 20-year-old from Taiwan won't be trying.

The 2008 LPGA Tour rookie of the year got off to an excellent start yesterday with a 6-under 66 to begin today's second round of the SBS Open in Hawaii tied with Michelle Wie for second. Both golfers trail first-day leader Angela Stanford by one shot.

“;Being No. 1 in the world has always been a dream, my goal when I was very young,”; Tseng said. “;But I think I have a long way to go. It's just step by step, just do what I'm doing now and just see the results.”;

The results were good for Tseng last year. She not only won her first major at the McDonald's LPGA Championship, she also finished second five other times en route to 10 top 10s. She earned $1.75 million after pocketing only $65,000 the previous year.

In yesterday's opening round, she carded seven birdies and only one bogey to put herself into contention in the first full-field event of 2009. Tseng hit 14 greens in regulation and needed a modest 27 putts. Her average driving distance was 247 yards.

“;I want to have fun,”; Tseng said of the coming campaign. “;I know I can play well. The five second-place finishes, that's last year. Now is another new year, and I'm looking forward to this year.”;


Rain, rain went away

Stanford has a decade on Tseng, so her approach to course management and dealing with rain and wind is a little different.

More rain was expected than actually fell yesterday, and Tseng sounded like she wouldn't have minded hail or a blizzard. She adapted to the changing conditions.

“;This morning was huge rain,”; Tseng said. “;It was like summer today, big rain, and after 2 minutes, it was sunny. ... The first three holes, it was a little bit wet, but (after) it was all perfect.

“;I really like (bad conditions) to give more challenge. ... It's very good for a ball-striking player, and you can play any combination of shot. So if it's very calm, everybody has a chance, but it's very hard to know which one is better. So I like the challenge.”;

Stanford, however, felt lucky to avoid a downpour.

“;It came down really hard when we were warming up,”; Stanford said, “;so I didn't hit as many balls as I usually do. It was very odd.”;

The first-round leader talked about how she's learned to settle for par on some holes at the Palmer Course and manage her play—easier when it's dry and calm—but can still relate to Tseng's perspective.

“;Yeah, she's young,”; Stanford said. “;You know, (but) she has a good point. I always liked crazy weather in college, because I knew it eliminated half of the field.”;


Inside the numbers

The scoring average after yesterday's opening round was 73.671 with the par-4 seventh being the most difficult hole. The scoring average was 4.474 with only six birdies, 76 pars, 43 bogeys, eight doubles and four triples.

The easiest hole was the par-5 third with a scoring average of 4.708. There were three eagles by Pat Hurst, Jee Young Lee and Momoko Ueda. Ueda made the most of hers with an opening-round 68. There were also 46 birdies, 78 pars, eight bogeys and two doubles by Michelle McGann and Jo Young.