Thursday October 25, 2012
Out-of-form Yani seeks comfort in home tournament
TAIPEI: An emotional world number one Tseng Yani is hoping home advantage at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship can help break a demoralising, seven-month winless streak that moved her to tears this week.
Last year the diminutive “Pride of Taiwan” capped a brilliant season with her seventh and final win of the year in front of sell-out crowds at Sunrise Golf and Country Club, in the island’s north.
But Yani, 23, has stumbled this year with no wins since March, including 11 straight tournaments without a top-10 finish and three missed cuts.
At a pre-tournament event, the severe pressure became apparent as Yani – whose motto is “Keep smiling” – fought back tears when discussing her struggles.
“I just want to let people know this is not easy but I’m still working really hard and doing my best to keep world number one and to really enjoy the life,” she told journalists.
“It’s very hard for me, the past three-four months, and now it’s getting better. I wish the fans keep supporting me, no matter how I play.”
Yani admitted she had been unprepared for the stresses of being the world’s top player, a ranking she has held for 89 weeks, despite words of advice from Swedish great Annika Sorenstam.
“I asked Annika a few things before I became number one, the year before I did. She told me that world number one is the loneliest place on earth,” Yani recalled.
“At the time I couldn’t feel anything, I was like no, I’m happy. I feel I’m happy as a person. I have so many friends, support from media, fans and my team. Everybody is happy and I don’t feel anything.
“As it becomes longer at number one, I feel more and more pressure and everybody is trying to grab every piece of me. When you play good, everything is good but when you don’t play so good, everything is bad.
“Even when you think there are good things, they still say bad things. It’s very hard. At that time, I feel sad and I feel no one knows how hard I work and how many tears, they only know the score.
“At that time, I feel very lonely because no one understands since they haven’t been world number one before. So I’m the only one that knows this and I now know what Annika is saying.”
However, Yani will be hopeful of an upturn in fortunes after she finished third, one stroke short of a play-off, at last week’s KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea – her best performance since March.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen is chasing her second trophy in a row after beating Catriona Matthew in the play-off. South Korea’s Park InBee, the current LPGA money leader, will seek her ninth top-five finish this year.
Glamorous Korean-American Michelle Wie is also in the field. — AFP