There is no doubt that Yani Tseng is the top-ranked player this year in women’s golf given her dominance of the LPGA Tour but jet lag and the Ghost Creek course may just prevent her from getting her fifth victory this year at the Safeway Classic which started at Pumpkin Ridge Gold Club.
Tseng won her fourth win and second major this year at the Women’s British Open last month. She enjoys a celebrity status as one of the biggest sports stars in her native Taiwan.
“I feel tired,” Tseng said. “I was doing lots of sponsor things, media, a cover magazine photo shoot. It was so much fun, I’m always very happy to go back to Taiwan. … (But) I just got back here three days ago, and I still have very bad jet lag.”
Safeway will be held for the third consecutive year at Pumpkin Ridge’s public 18 at Ghost Creek. Looking back, Tseng’s two public appearances at Pumpkin Ridge have been subpar as she tied for 34th in 2009 and 45th in 2010. An untimely 75 did her in both years.
“I didn’t play good on this golf course,” she said.
But the 22-year old is expected to follow the footsteps of Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam as the clear top player of the tour. She moved up to the top of the world rankings on February 14 and has been there for 27 consecutive weeks.
Tseng has five major championship victories unlike world golf number one Luke Donald who has none. Two of those major victories were accomplished by Tseng this year, making her the tour’s youngest player to win a fifth major. However, her status has brought several responsibilities that can slow her down including appearances in news conferences and radio interviews.
World No. 3 Suzann Pettersen said Tseng is raising the bar for women’s golf just like he retired Ochoa and Sorenstam.
“You wouldn’t think it would be possible the way Annika played, but Lorena stepped it up and kind of made the rest of us work even harder, and Yani’s doing it again,” Pettersen said. “She’s a great ambassador for women’s golf.”