Top-ranked Yani Tseng is counting on a hometown advantage in the Taiwan Championship this week to get her first tournament title since March.
Tseng’s success, including two majors each in 2010 and 2011, helped Taiwan land its first LPGA Tour event, and she won the inaugural event last year by five strokes. She wouldn’t mind if the second tournament starting Thursday at Sunrise Golf and Country Club near the island’s northwest coast comes with more than a breeze.
”The stronger the wind, the better I play,” she said Tuesday. Tseng grew up in the area.
Tseng has struggled since winning three of her first five tournaments this year, but the LPGA Tour’s return to Asia this month has seen a lift in her confidence and results.
In the Sime Darby Malaysia two weeks ago, she was eased by the appearance of her coach Gary Gilchrist, and felt positive about a tie for 49th. Her mother and sister were on hand in South Korea last week to provide more good vibes as she finished third, one stroke out of a playoff in the HanaBank Championship. It was her first top-10 in 12 starts since June.
”She went through a summer where she didn’t win every tournament, which was sort of strange,” LPGA commissioner Michael Whan said.
Last year, Tseng fed off the support of 67,000 mainly Taiwanese fans at Sunrise, and another big crowd is expected to follow one of the island’s few sports superstars.
”I don’t think Yani’s game is declining as much as there’s so much robust competition and rising young stars,” said Larry DeGaris, the sports marketing program director at the University of Indianapolis.