Altvater: Rolex World ranked No. 1 Yani Tseng is struggling to find her dominating gameWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
As the leaders of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic made the turn to the back nine on Sunday they had to walk by the practice putting green at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Nearly every one of them glanced over at the world’s No. 1 ranked woman golfer, Yani Tseng, spending some time on the putting green.
Yani was working on her putting while the tournament went on without her in the field. She had missed her second consecutive cut. It was her third missed cut in the last four events.
Yani’s best finishes over the last two months have been T-59 at the Wegman’s LPGA and T-50 at the U.S. Women’s Open.
While Yani was methodically making three-foot putts on the putting green, So Yeon Ryu, a rookie on the LPGA was making six consecutive birdies and posting a nine-under par 62 to win the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic by seven shots.
Look out, Yani! Here comes another strong young player looking to unseat the Rolex World ranked No. 1. You cannot stand still in professional golf. You either continue to improve or you get run over by eager young players looking to knock you off your perch.
Before she moved to the putting green Yani was a lone figure on the practice range. Even the world’s best woman golfer has to put in the time on the range and the practice green.
Late in her round on Friday afternoon, Yani had birdied No. 16 and 17 to get back to even par and inside the cut line. Her short iron shot from the fairway to the elevated green at No. 18 came up short. She hit a poor chip shot and missed her 10-foot par putt. It all added up to a bogey and a +1 aggregate score for the first two days. She missed the cut by a single shot.
Through her first nine events of 2012, Yani had three wins and eight top 10s. Her worst finish was T-12 at the Shoprite Classic in early June. She is ranked No. 3 on the LPGA Money List and has earned a little more than $1 million this year.
Yani spent so much time striving to become No. 1 that it was a completely different feeling trying to stay No. 1. She had a slight letdown. It is a lot different when you are the hunted rather than the hunter. When you are looking up you are just trying to beat the golfer ahead of you. When you are No. 1 there are 100 or more golfers trying to knock you down.
She felt that pressure and started playing more conservatively. Not enjoying the game. It became tedious and a struggle. She was definitely not having any fun. She was playing not to lose rather than to win.
Coming into the Jamie Farr, she decided to change her attitude and enjoy the game. She even changed caddies this year.
The caddy she has had for the last few weeks is not working and she will have another new caddy in Portland.
She was very pleased with the way she hit the ball for the first two days at the Jamie Farr but just didn’t get anything out of it on her scorecard. She feels very close to regaining her form and becoming the dominating golfer that has made her the youngest golfer, man or woman, to win five majors.
After our chat beside the putting green, she threw her Adams Staff Bag over her shoulder and headed to Portland for the Safeway Classic.
Professional golf can be a lonely pursuit, and the conquest begins anew at every tournament stop. While the rest of the players try to knock her off her lofty perch as world No. 1, Yani Tseng will try to return to her domination of the LPGA.
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