Masterful Tseng wins fourth major

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Yani Tseng has spectacularly reinforced her hold on the women’s World No 1 ranking by winning her fourth major.

Yani Tseng of Taiwan spectacularly reinforced her hold on the women’s World No 1 ranking when she became the youngest golfer in history to win four major titles on Sunday.

And to top all that, she did it going away, the 22-year-old beating the second-placed Morgan Pressel (71) of the USA in the Wegman’s LPGA Championship by a stunning 10 strokes as she posted a closing 66 for a record-equalling 19-under par 269 at the Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York.

Tseng, who also won the 2008 Wegmans LPGA Championship, traditionally the second women’s major of the year, at Bulle Rock and was last year’s Kraft Nabisco and Women’s British Open champions, surpassed Se-ri Pak of South Korea and Tiger Woods, who were both 24 when they won a fourth professional major.

Patty Berg was 23 when she captured her first four majors in the years before the formation of the LPGA.

The long-hitting Taiwanese matched the best women’s major score in relation to par, duplicating Cristie Kerr’s total here last year, Dottie Pepper’s winning score at the 1999 Kraft Nabisco and Briton Karen Stupples’ total in claiming the 2004 Women’s British Open.

“I feel very excited,” said Tseng, who wildly flung her arms in the air and tipped her cap to acknowledge the cheers of the gallery as she walked up the 18th fairway.

“I almost cried,” she said at the media conference afterwards, “because it was so emotional.

“I’m from Taiwan. It’s a little country and the people here are very, very supportive of me. I feel really good about that.”

Her regal performance was, in some respects, a less spectacular but equally convincing version of Rory McIlroy’s triumph at the recent US Open; a sensational bounce back from a previous disappointment, in McIlroy’s case from this year’s Masters, in Tseng’s case from the Kraft Nabisco in April, where she lost a two-shot lead in the final round to finish second to Stacy Lewis.

The victory was her third on the LPGA Tour and her fifth overall this season and gave her three major wins from the last six that have been played.

In a telephone interview with the Golf Channel golfing legend Annika Sorenstam, a 10-time major winner described Tseng as “the new face of the LPGA.”

The 23-year-old Pressel, winner of one major, the 2007 Kraft Nabisco, birdied the par-five 17th hole to break out of a four-way tie for second place and finish as the solitary, but distant runner-up on nine-under-par 279.

Tied a further shot back were Kerr (69), who was the defending champion, fellow American Paula Creamer (69), the reigning US Women’s Open champion, and Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (67), the 2007 LPGA Championship winner.

“Yani is doing what I did last year,” said Kerr. “I’m not surprised. Yani is a great player. She’s in the prime of her career. She’s found her stride at a young age.”

Pettersen also praised Tseng.

“Yani is a phenomenal golfer,” said Pettersen, who reached nine-under with three birdies in a row from the 15th before sliding with a bogey at the last. “I think she is great.”

The resilient Tseng overcame a stumble at the first hole before turning the final round into a a runaway canter..

Disturbed by a photographer snapping a picture on her backswing, she pulled her opening tee shot into the left rough and that led to a bogey-five that cut her overnight lead to four shots.

But not for long.

The Taiwanese bomber promptly roared back with three birdies in a row, crushing a drive 300 yards from the elevated tee on the third hole where she outdistanced her playing partner LaCrosse’s drive by nearly 60 yards.

During that charge Tseng made a two-foot birdie at the second to reclaim her five-shot lead, a 10-footer at the third and another two-footer at the fourth.

After parring the fifth, Tseng birdied two of the next three holes for good measure and her total annihilation of the field was well on its way when she made the turn with a 10-shot lead.

Tseng said she knew she had a shot at a record 20-under-par total and set that as a goal.

“My caddie said, ‘I’ll buy you dinner if you make 20-under. I said, ‘is that all I get?'”

Tseng had a 12-foot putt for birdie and the record at the 18th. “This is for dinner,” she told the caddie, but her putt slipped by on the right of the hole.

The record will have to wait, but not the glory. she had crowned her self with huge amounts of that.

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