While the golf world was consumed with Tiger Woods getting his first official Tour win in over 2 seasons on Sunday at Bay Hill, Yani Tseng fired a 2-under 70 at the Kia Classic to win her 3rd tournament this season in just 5 starts, her 15th career LPGA Tour win. She’s obviously the favorite heading into the Kraft Nabisco Championship this week, the first major of the season for the ladies. If she can continue her current form and prevail come Sunday, it will be her 6th major championship win in just the past 2 years.
Tseng finished runner-up in the Kraft Nabisco last year, as American Stacy Lewis earned her first LPGA Tour victory by virtue of a closing round of 3-under 69. Tseng struggled that Sunday in route to a 2-over 74, but is looking forward to teeing it up on Thursday in the first major championship of the 2012 LPGA Tour season. “Last year was a huge experience for me, and I’m just heading into next week and I’m look forward to it. I know what I’m going to do and still play one shot at a time, be patient, and I love that golf course. The golf course suits me pretty well and suits my game. I can’t wait to start on Thursday.”
Beth Ann Baldry over at GolfWeek provided an interesting take that put Yani’s dominance in perspective. “Tseng has won four of the last eight majors she has played. She needs 10 more majors to tie Patty Berg atop the all-time majors list at 15. At this point, that seems doable. And while it’s extremely hard to compare eras, there’s no question that Tseng is dominating at a time when fields are exponentially deeper than they were in Berg’s time.”
While Baldry’s comment about the obvious disparity in the strength of fields between the Berg and Tseng eras rings true, unfortunately for Tseng, as well as the LPGA Tour in general, there’s hardly any notable difference in the disparity of interest from Berg’s era and today. That is most unfortunate for Tseng, who continues to be little more than a side note in most morning sports sections in newspapers across the country, despite being the most dominate player in any sport in current times. That lack of interest in women’s professional golf is visible not only with the continuing challenges of securing title sponsors to maintain a relatively active season schedule of tournaments, but also with the allotment of time devoted to televised coverage. In fact – those who are interested in watching the Kraft Nabisco this week will need an upgraded cable television package, as no major basic-cable network (like CBS or NBC) is carrying it, but only the Golf Channel.
While this interest disparity obviously weighs most heavily on LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan, it also dulls the sheen coming from the most dominant player in professional sports, who does speak fluent English by the way. But women’s professional golf finds itself in the most undesirable of situations, domestically speaking… Whan needs an American player to rival Tseng in hopes of generating renewed interest in women’s pro golf here in the states, a player who can generate some home-based excitement. But that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, and not just because of the current generation of American female players, but because Yani Tseng is just that great of a player.
The only problem is that many people still don’t know who Yani Tseng is, or what she’s on the verge of accomplishing. She truly is a once-in-a-lifetime player that is in the process of rewriting golf history, a history, sadly, that very few seem to care much about.