Yani Tseng: in a slump and out of answers
Five months without a top 10. Sixteen consecutive rounds without breaking 70. An average final round of 74.3 since April. The numbers add to a player mired in a dreadful slump, and it's even more shocking when they belong to the No. 1 player in the world.
Yani Tseng doesn't seem to have any answers.
''I think this is just part of real life when you go out and you have to go down and maybe you go up again,'' Tseng said Monday in South Korea, where she is the defending champion in the LPGA HanaBank Championship. ''I can always be stronger and tougher when I'm coming back.''
The last No. 1 player to turn in such pedestrian scores was Tiger Woods in 2010, though he was coming off a humiliating crisis in his personal life and spent the better part of three months without a swing coach.
Tseng started this year looking very much like the most dominant player of any tour. She won three times in five starts and finished in the top 10 in all eight of her LPGA Tour events through the Match Play Championship. Now, that seems a lifetime ago.
Not only has she gone 11 straight LPGA events without a top 10, the difference between the two halves of her season is simply staggering.
She earned $976,876 in her first eight tournaments and $115,320 in her last 11 tournaments. Her scoring average in the first eight tournaments was 69.5, and it was 72.8 over her last 11 tournaments. Tseng had 15 of 28 rounds in the 60s through the Hawaii tournament. Only four of her last 36 rounds have been in the 60s.
It didn't help that she fired her caddie with hopes of changing her luck. When she went to hire him back, he had already agreed to work for U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi.
About the only thing that hasn't changed is her No. 1 ranking, and she's not likely to lose that by the end of the year.
''Last three months, I have been learning a lot from everything,'' Tseng said. ''It's kind of very tough because when you play best and you kind of struggle for three, four months, it's very difficult. But now I feel like I just want to enjoy my life and enjoy every part of my golf because this is a game I love since when I was young. This couple months, I've been feeling so much better on the golf course.
''I feel I'm happier and enjoy life more instead of trying to worry about world No. 1 or winning the tournament,'' she said. ''I just want to go out there and have fun with everybody else and try to make birdie every hole, and if not, go to the next tournament and try to play well. We still have more tournaments and next year to come.''
KIWI SURPRISE: Michael Campbell described it as ''a long time between drinks'' and he wasn't talking about a trip to the bar. The former U.S. Open champion had four rounds in the 60s and finished third in the Portugal Masters, two shots behind Shane Lowry.
It was his highest finish since he tied for third in the British Masters on Sept. 28, 2008.
As much attention as David Duval gets for a slump that has endured for a decade, Campbell's downturn ranks right up there. During that four-year span, he missed the cut 69 times in 90 official starts. He earned $181,742 on Sunday in Portugal, which is more than he had earned in 2009, 2010 and 2011 combined on the European Tour.
''I came here with no expectations, really,'' Campbell said Sunday. ''I just wanted to have some fun with my golf and today was a great example. ... If someone said to me at the start of the week, `Look, Michael, you'll finish third or fourth after this week,' I'd be very happy indeed. I'm happy to be up there now and just in contention. It's surprising. I haven't been amongst it for such a long time.''
Campbell is going on seven years without winning, his last title coming in 2005 at the World Match Play Championship.
He returned this year to longtime coach Jonathan Yarwood and got back to the basics this May at Wentworth. More than anything, Campbell said he needed an attitude adjustment.
''There's one thing that happened to me over the last three or four years,'' he said. ''I've put too much pressure on myself to perform. And now, I wouldn't say, `I don't care,' but if it's your best shot, it's your best shot. And that's one thing I'm trying to mentally get over.''
Campbell went from No. 607 to No. 361 in the world ranking.
TELEVISION GAINS: The PGA Tour saw increases from each of its television partners during the FedEx Cup portion of the season.
The Sports Business Journal reports that NBC Sports got the largest boost with an average of 3.43 million viewers for its weekend telecasts, up 45 percent from the previous year. It was the best average for the network since the current TV contract began in 2007. It's previous high was 3.42 million viewers in 2009.
CBS Sports, which televises the most tour events, averaged 2.75 million viewers, up 20 percent from the previous year.
Golf Channel had a 23 percent increase for coverage that included weekday rounds, weekend lead-in coverage and replays in prime time. The Sports Business Journal said Golf Channel was particularly strong in early round coverage (up 29 percent), especially during the FedEx Cup, when its viewership average was up 84 percent from 2011.
DIVOTS: Rickie Fowler will not defend his first professional win this week at the Korea Open because of back issues. He also pulled out of the CIMB Classic next week in Malaysia. Fowler says he has dealt with back problems the last few months. While they are not serious, his doctors have told him that traveling overseas and playing tournaments are not in his best interests. Fowler was replaced in Malaysia by Charlie Wi. ... Brandt Snedeker became a father for the second time. His wife gave birth to a son, Austin Jones, on Sunday. ... Nicolas Colsaerts had a 71-73 weekend at the Frys.com Open, dropping him into a tie for 35th that was worth $24,125. That pushed his total to $677,011, which is the equivalent of No. 119 on the money list. He needs to be equal to No. 125 at the end of the year to earn his PGA Tour card next year. With two official tournaments left, Colsaerts is $64,650 ahead of Billy Mayfair at No. 125. ... Gary Woodland tied for ninth at the Frys.com Open, his first top 10 in more than a year. ... Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen will represent the LPGA Tour in the Three-Tour Challenge, to be played Nov. 13 at Rio Secco in Las Vegas. The Champions Tour will be represented by Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman and Fred Funk. Still to be announced is the PGA Tour team.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Since the Fall Series began in 2007, 10 of the 29 tournaments have produced first-time winners on the PGA Tour.
FINAL WORD: ''It's one of the toughest, most difficult losses I've ever had in my career. Individually, that and the Winged Foot U.S. Open loss have stung the most.'' - Phil Mickelson, on the Ryder Cup.