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Tseng's dominance continues with win at Kia Classic

Mon, 26/03/2012 - 19:07

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng’s dominance of the LPGA Tour continued on Sunday with a six-shot victory over Sun Young Yoo at the 2012 Kia Classic. At the age of 23 years, 2 months and 2 days, Tseng becomes the second-youngest player in LPGA history to 15 victories behind Nancy Lopez.

The victory is Tseng’s second-consecutive following last week’s triumph at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and the third in five attempts this season. She has led or co-led after each of the last eight rounds dating back to the first round in Phoenix last week and has won seven of the last eight times she entered the final round with a lead. She now turns her attention to next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the golf season, where she will seek her second Kraft title and sixth major win.

Now the proud owner of a Kia Optima Limited following the win, Tseng carded just four bogies en route to a 14-under-par 274 after 72 holes this week at the La Costa Resort and Spa’s South Course. Amazingly, the victory could have been even more convincing if not for five short birdie putt misses during Saturday’s third round. Regardless, the amicable Tseng has now carded 11 of her last 15 rounds in the 60’s.

None of Tseng’s competitors seemed up to the challenge this week with the Taiwanese star extending her lead after each round. Former Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jiyai Shin had the best opportunity to test Tseng, trailing by just two strokes entering the following round. Shin, who has now recorded three top-10’s in 2012, finished the week in a tie for third with Shanshan Feng.

Sun Young Yoo finished solo second at 8-under-par 280, her first top-10 of the season.

Feng continued her solid play with a final-round 67 and a tie for third with Shin. The 22-year-old, who several weeks ago became the first winner from Mainland China on the Ladies European Tour, has now finished in the top-5 in each of her three starts this year on the LPGA.

The win nets Tseng a 23rd point toward qualification for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. Twenty-seven points and 10 years of service on the LPGA Tour are needed for induction. Two points are on the line at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Visit LPGA.com later today for more in-depth notes and interviews.

Kia Classic final-round notes and interviews

Mon, 26/03/2012 - 01:29

Kia Classic La Costa Resort and Spa Carlsbad, Calif. Final-round notes and interviews March 25, 2012

Yani Tseng -14, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Sun Young Yoo -8, Rolex Rankings No. 45 Jiyai Shin -7, Rolex Rankings No. 8

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng captured her third victory of the 2012 LPGA season and her 15th career win after shooting a final-round 70 to secure a six-shot victory at the Kia Classic. Tseng entered Sunday leading by three shots over Rolex Rankings No. 8 Jiyai Shin but her lead shrunk to just two shots after Shin’s birdie on the second.

Even though Shin inched a little closer to the world’s No. 1, there never seemed to be a question that this would once again be Tseng’s day. A birdie by Tseng on the par-4 fifth extended her lead back to three and from there, she never looked back. The only blip in her round came with a bogey on the 18th hole when her win was already well in hand. In addition to the $255,000 first-place prize check, Tseng also takes home a Kia Optima Limited following the win.

The victory is Tseng’s second-consecutive following last week’s triumph at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and the third in five attempts this season. She has led or co-led after each of the last eight rounds dating back to the first round in Phoenix last week and has won seven of the last eight times she entered the final round with a lead. Tseng’s round of 70 on Sunday also marked her 10th consecutive under-par round dating back to the Honda LPGA Thailand last month.

Making her mark: With her win at the Kia Classic, Tseng becomes the second youngest LPGA player to reach 15 career victories at the age of 23 years, 2 months, 2 days. The only player to reach the mark faster than Tseng is Nancy Lopez, who was 22 years, 5 months and 18 days when she won her 15th career victory at the 1979 Lady Keystone Open on June 24, 1979. Closing Time: This marks the 7th time in Yani Tseng’s career that she has won an event after leading or co-leading heading into the final round. She went 0-for-4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s 7-for-8, her only loss coming at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, where Stacy Lewis became a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2011.

It’s also the second straight week that Tseng has captured a victory when holding a 54-hole lead. Tseng was tied for the lead with Ai Miyazato heading into the final round of last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup before shooting a final-round 68 to capture the victory.

“I feel much more comfortable than the first time, of course,” Tseng said in reference to holding on to a final-round lead. “Today the first hole I just kind of felt like every day is the same.  I didn't feel like today was Sunday.  I didn't feel like I had a three‑shot lead.  I just focused on playing one shot at a time.  I think I did a good job to just kind of focus on myself instead of look at what Sun Young is doing or Jiyai is doing.  Just really focused on what I can do and try to improve and make birdies.  So that's very good.  That's how I learned over the past few years”

Is the Hall Call coming soon? Tseng earned her 23rd point towards qualifying for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame with her victory on Sunday at the Kia Classic. Twenty-seven points and 10 years of service on the LPGA Tour are needed for induction.

Two points are on the line at the Kraft

Kia Classic Final Results

Mon, 26/03/2012 - 00:35

2012 Kia Classic
Final Tournament Summary
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Purse: $1,700,000.00
La Costa Resort, Legends Course
Par: 36 36 - 72 Yardage: 6500

POS NAME SCORES TOTAL TO PAR OFFICIAL MONEY 1 Yani Tseng 67-68-69-70 274 -14 $255,000 2 Sun Young Yoo 69-73-67-71 280 -8 $156,242 T3 Shanshan Feng 72-71-71-67 281 -7 $100,511 T3 Jiyai Shin 68-71-68-74 281 -7 $100,511 T5 Ai Miyazato 72-70-71-70 283 -5 $64,156 T5 Caroline Hedwall 67-72-70-74 283 -5 $64,156 T7 Jodi Ewart 70-69-73-72 284 -4 $45,337 T7 Se Ri Pak 71-66-73-74 284 -4 $45,337 9 Brittany Lincicome 68-73-73-71 285 -3 $38,066 T10 Catriona Matthew 79-70-68-69 286 -2 $33,361 T10 Chella Choi 71-71-70-74 286 -2 $33,361 T12 Azahara Munoz 71-73-71-72 287 -1 $27,287 T12 Suzann Pettersen 68-75-71-73 287 -1 $27,287 T12 Inbee Park 72-70-70-75 287 -1 $27,287 T12 Alison Walshe 73-66-73-75 287 -1 $27,287 T16 Eun-Hee Ji 76-70-71-71 288 E $22,840 T16 Mina Harigae

In the winner's circle with Yani Tseng

Sun, 25/03/2012 - 23:43

Kia Classic
March 25, 2012

Hometown/Current residence – Taoyuan, Taiwan/Orlando, Florida
Birthdate – Jan. 23, 1989 – currently 23 years, 2 months, 2 days
Qualified for LPGA Tour – 6th at 2007 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament
Turned Professional – January 2007

15th career LPGA victory: 2008 McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola. 2009 LPGA Corning Classic. 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, RICOH Women's British Open, P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Walmart.2011 Honda LPGA Thailand, LPGA State Farm Classic, Wegmans LPGA Championship, RICOH Women's British Open, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, LPGA HanaBank Championship, Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship 2012 Honda LPGA Thailand, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Kia Classic

Increased LPGA career earnings to $8,333,269 – moves to 13th on the LPGA Career Money List

3rd win in five starts this year and 6th win in last 12 starts dating back to Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in September 2011

Earned her 23rd point toward the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame – needs four more points to qualify and 10 years of LPGA service

15 LPGA wins ties Sally Little on the LPGA All-Time Wins List.

Maintains her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race (99 points) and 2012 LPGA Official Money List with $792,286

Wins by other LPGA greats at Yani’s age (23 years, 2 months, 2 days):
Player Wins by Yani’s age Career Wins
Kathy Whitworth 2 wins 88 wins (1st on All-Time Career Win List)
Mickey Wright 5 wins 82 wins (2nd)
Annika Sorenstam 0 wins 72 wins (3rd)
Nancy Lopez 17 wins 48 wins (7th)
Karrie Webb 8 wins 38 wins (11th)
Lorena Ochoa 2 wins 27 wins (19th)
Se Ri Pak 8 wins 25 wins (23rd)

Tiger Pace?
Age when Tiger reached 15th career victory: 23 years, 10 months, 7 days (The 1999 WGC-American Express Championship)

Marks the 7th time in Tseng’s career that she’s captured a victory after leading or co-leading heading into the final round. After going 0-for-4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, she’s now 7-for-8 with her only loss coming at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Kia Classic third-round notes and interviews

Sun, 25/03/2012 - 14:31

Kia Classic
La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, Calif.
Second-round notes and interviews
March 23, 2012

Yani Tseng -12, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Jiyai Shin -9, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Caroline Hedwall -7, Rolex Rankings No. 24

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng is seeking her third victory of the season and yet another point toward the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame following a 69 on Friday at the Kia Classic. Tseng will try to capture her 15th career LPGA Tour win tomorrow as she takes a three-shot lead over Jiyai Shin into the final round at La Costa Resort and Spa. The 69 today was the eighth sub-70 round in her last nine attempts and the ninth consecutive under-par round dating back to the Honda LPGA Thailand for Tseng.

Tseng’s day, which climaxed with a 370 yard drive on the 18th hole where her ball hit the cart path, rolled over a bridge, could have been much better if not for four short birdie misses on the front nine. The 23-year-old also missed a short birdie putt on the 17th hole, but managed to maintain her lead entering final round play.

“No. 18 that was a pretty lucky shot,” Tseng said. “I don't know how that happened. It goes over the bridge, and the bridge was like three yards wide. People are telling me, Yani, you just hit a 370 yard drive there, so that was probably the longest drive I've ever hit.

“I was very happy because I just got lucky there. To be able to hit it on the green for the second shot. But overall with my round I just wasn't happy. I couldn't believe how much short putt I missed out there.”

Closing Time: This marks the 12th time in Yani Tseng’s career that she has led or co-led heading into the final round of a tournament. In the 11 previous instances, Tseng has gone on to win six times. She went 0 for 4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s 6 for 7, her only loss coming at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, where Stacy Lewis became a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2011. Tseng was tied for the lead with Ai Miyazato heading into the final round of last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup before shooting a final-round 68 to capture the victory.

So how does Tseng feel heading into the final round of play this week?

“I kind of feel pretty relaxed,” Tseng said. “I mean, I was pretty happy today. But after I'm going to go putt a little bit and practice a little bit. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I'll play with Jiyai, maybe. I mean, we're good friends, so I think we're going to have lots of fun on the golf course and try to beat each other.”

Return of the final-round queen? Jiyai Shin earned the nickname “Final Round Queen” early in her career for her propensity for coming back and winning in the final rounds. Now she’ll have another opportunity to see if she can stage a fourth-round comeback.

Shin will enter Sunday sitting three strokes behind Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng. For Shin, who lost to Sandra Gal on the 72nd hole at last year’s Kia Classic when it was played at Pacific Palms just outside Los Angeles, it will be another chance to claim a tournament that she would very much like to win.

“This tournament is a Korean company that sponsors it, so I'm all the time thinking about that,” Shin said. “I appreciate the sponsor every time. In California, here they have a lot of Korean people, so they're watching and cheering for me, so it feels like I'm really ready to go w

Kim, Lincicome and Lewis pulled double duty on Friday

Sat, 24/03/2012 - 19:20
Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis pulled double duty on Friday at the Kia Classic. The trio helped to run Golf Channel’s coverage of second-round play at La Costa Resort and Spa with Christina Kim taking over for play-by-play man Rich Lerner in the booth, Brittany Lincicome producing the telecast and Stacy Lewis operating a camera on the 15th hole.

For all three of the players, it was an experience that they won’t soon forget.

“I had no idea, even though I'd been in the booth before, how hard that would be,” Kim said. “It's outrageously hard, but so fun. Stacy had a hard job, watching the ball with the camera. Brittany probably had the hardest job because she had to tell everyone what to do.”

“I felt like I was getting the hang of it,” Lincicome said of her job producing. “Okay, I want to go for this hole and they're putting for this score. I got it towards the end. But putting in the Kia promos and the leaderboard and all that, that's where I was getting confused. Because to go from hole to hole with a different girl was pretty easy, but to do all that other stuff in there was pretty hard. I'd definitely do it again. I thought it was very exciting.”

“I thought I did okay. I had a good teacher,” Lewis said of working the camera. “The hardest part was following the ball. It goes a lot higher than you think. You have to zoom out and focus while following it all at the same time. The first couple groups were tough. I needed more practice before Yani's group. He said, "if you miss the ball, just zoom out."

Kia Classic second-round notes and interviews

Sat, 24/03/2012 - 03:58

Kia Classic La Costa Resort and Spa Carlsbad, Calif. Second-round notes and interviews March 23, 2012

Yani Tseng -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Se Ri Pak -7, Rolex Rankings No. 38 Jiyai Shin -5, Rolex Rankings No. 8 Caroline Hedwall -5, Rolex Rankings No. 24 Alison Walshe -5, Rolex Rankings No. 129 Brittany Lincicome -3, Rolex Rankings No. 10 Jennifer Johnson -3, Rolex Rankings No. 151

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will take a two-stroke lead into the weekend after shooting a 4-under 68 in the second of the Kia Classic. Tseng had the same number of birdies as her first round (6) but made back-to-back bogeys on No. 7 and 8 before turning things around on the back-nine when she shot 33, which included closing out with a birdie on the par-4 18th hole.

Sitting two shots behind Tseng is LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak, who tied for the low round of the day with a 6-under 66. It’s the lowest round for Pak on Tour since she shot 66 in the second round of the 2010 Bell Micro LPGA Classic. She went on to win that event, which is her last professional victory.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng holed a bunker shot for birdie on the tenth hole Friday to swing the momentum in her favor en route to a second-round 68. The 23-year-old added another chip-in with the wedge on No. 13 – one of six birdies in her day – to overcome back-to-back bogies on Nos. 7 and 8. Surprisingly, the bunker shot on 10 was her first-ever hole-out as a professional in a tournament. “I think that's the first time I chipped in from the bunker as a professional, so I was really, really happy about that. Today, I just stayed really patient, and I was very happy that I finished with 4-under.”

Tseng will be paired on Saturday with Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak, a player she has long admired. “I think for us, especially Asian golfers, all Asian golfers want to be like Se Ri Pak. She's a superstar. She's a legend. When we were kids, we were looking for her swing. We wanted to learn her swing. We're always looking as a goal with us.”

Tseng remembers with regret the first time she played alongside Se Ri Pak as a member of the LPGA Tour at the 2008 CN Canadian Women’s Open. “Unfortunately, I was very nervous.  It was the first time I played with her.  It was just a bad time to play with her because I had a four-shot lead, and I was nervous, and there was so much pressure and I didn't win the tournament.  I was thinking too much and nervous to play with Se Ri.  And I was overthinking and trying too hard.” Australian Katherine Hull went on to win event.

It’s been nearly five years since Se Ri Pak became the youngest ever player to qualify for the Hall of Fame at age 29, but the Korean legend is still as focused as ever on competing. Pak, who shot a 6-under 66, still wants to get back in the winner’s circle as she hasn’t won in nearly two years.

“Since last year almost the end of the season -- every tournament I feel really great about it,” Pak said. “Now I'm really enjoying playing golf.  Actually, in the winter time I was working with my dad.  He's my first coach.  He helps me a lot, and made it very simple.  There are no major effects or a lot of routines going on.  It's very simple thoughts.  So that helps a lot

This week it is all about... Leta Lindley

Fri, 23/03/2012 - 22:24


Every week throughout 2012, we will spotlight one LPGA player and provide an in depth look into her life -- both on the course and off of it. Keep coming back each day to learn more about Leta Lindley.

 

CALLING IT A CAREER
Lindley to make 2012 season her final on LPGA Tour

BY NEAL REID

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." For Leta Lindley, that means a nearly 20-year career on the LPGA Tour.

Lindley will make 2012, her 18th season as a Tour member, her last.

The mother of two and husband Matt Plagmann - her caddie of 17 years - are in the process of transitioning into life after golf, and the Arizona veteran is at peace with her decision.

"I think it's definitely time," said Lindley, who joined the LPGA Tour in 1995. "My kids need me at home, this will be my 18th year on Tour, and I feel like it's time. I feel good about the decision.

"It's a little bittersweet, because I've spent so much of my life playing competitive golf. So, I think it will be a little odd to not be preparing for the 2013 season. No one said I was going to play forever, and I never expected to be JoAnne Carner, who was 60 when she was still playing." More >>

 

 


Video streaming by Ustream

 

 

Leta Lindley Prader-Willi Classic Pro-Am

 

Leta Lindley hosted the 8th Annual Prader-Willi Classic in honor of Josilyn Faith Levine and Harold Wilkinson IV Janaury 13-15, 2012 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The pro-am benefits the Genetic Diesase Foundation and continuing research on Prader-Willi Syndrome. More than 20 fellow Tour members joined Leta to help raise funds to fight this terrible disease.

PWS is a complex birth defect typically causing low muscle tone, short stat

For the Love of the Fans: Paula Creamer

Fri, 23/03/2012 - 13:59


 

If you could please pass along a thank you to Paula Creamer, for taking two seconds out of her day to sign the golf hat of a little 7-year-old girl, at La Costa today. Her name is London, and she was simply in awe of all the wonderful women players, and was so honored to have received the autograph of such a well respected player as Paula. It's nice to have athletic, talented and beautiful women for my daughter to look up to! Please be sure she receives this recognition, as I want her to know, it didn't go unnoticed. Her gesture may have been minute, but to a young, athletic, talented, and beautiful little girl, it will be something she'll always remember. Thank you!

Kathryn Nicol

 

If you have a positive story to tell, feel free to email it to feedback@lpga.com and it will be posted in the For the Love of the Fans section. Read more stories like this one here>>

Kia Classic first-round notes and interviews

Fri, 23/03/2012 - 03:53

Kia Classic La Costa Resort and Spa Carlsbad, Calif. First-round notes and interviews March 22, 2012

Yani Tseng -5, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Caroline Hedwall -5, Rolex Rankings No. 24 Ji Young Oh -5, Rolex Rankings No. 342 Suzann Pettersen -4, Rolex Rankings No. 3 Jennifer Johnson -4, Rolex Rankings No. 151 Belen Mozo -2, Rolex Rankings No. 164

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, two-time LPGA Tour winner Ji Young Oh and second-year LPGA Tour member Caroline Hedwall are tied for the first-round lead at the 2012 Kia Classic after shooting 5-under 67s on Thursday. Both Tseng and Oh had six birdies and one bogey while Hedwall tallied seven birdies and two bogeys in the opening round on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.

Sitting one stroke behind the leaders are Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 8 Jiyai Shin, No. 10 Brittany Lincicome and Carlsbad native Jennifer Johnson. They all opened with a 4-under-par 68 in the first round.

Routine start: It’s becoming common practice to see Yani Tseng’s name at the top of the leaderboard and so it was no surprise to see her name up there once again after Thursday’s first round of the Kia Classic.

Certainly Tseng’s fellow competitors, including one of her playing partners on Thursday Suzann Pettersen, have come to expect the world’s No. 1 to deliver these kind of performances. That’s true even when Tseng doesn’t necessarily have her ‘A’ game as was the case in the first round when she hit only 8 fairways and 12 greens in regulation.

“She hits a lot of great shots,” Pettersen said. “Her bad shots are still very acceptable.  She recovers well from whenever she is in trouble. She has a pretty sharp short game.  That's probably what saves her the most.  She can be more aggressive and even afford to miss a green on the short side, even kind of saving her par. So overall, I think she's a very good ball striker. I think that's probably one of her strengths. She hits it fairly straight, and like I said, the more you practice, the luckier you get.”

Tseng has been on quite a run recently, which includes winning two of the first four LPGA events this season. She was asked on Thursday if she’s had time to really appreciate what she’s been able to do over the past year since taking over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings.

“I'm enjoying it,” Tseng said. “I'm always excited for every week, every week that's coming up and trying to win every tournament.”

“I'm learning from mistakes and every tournament I'm learning something, so that's pretty good for me,” she added. “Because it's very exciting to see this year what can I improve on my game?  What can I improve on my fitness, my mental? And just to see how far I can go.”

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Ji Young Oh could be deemed an “unexpected co-leader” after 18 holes of the Kia Classic. The 23-year-old South Korean closed her round with back-to-back birdies to shoot 5-under-par 67, the lowest number she has tallied on the LPGA Tour since late 2009 when she shot 67 in the final round of the Mizuno Classic. Oh, who made just one cut in 11 events last season while battling an injury to her left hip, recorded six birdies – all of which were putts within six feet – and one bogey to mat

Kia Motors American and Michelle Wie make $50000 donation

Thu, 22/03/2012 - 20:50

KIA MOTORS AMERICA AND LPGA STAR MICHELLE WIE DONATE $50,000 TO CAMP PENDLETON’S ARMED SERVICES YMCA OPERATION HERO PROGRAM

Donation Honors Michelle Wie’s College Graduation and the Kia Classic LPGA Golf Tournament’s Return to La Costa Resort and Spa

  • Operation Hero provides after school tutoring and mentoring assistance to kindergarten and elementary students of military families stationed at Camp Pendleton
  • Wie is Kia Motors’ official golf ambassador and drives a Kia Soul

CARLSBAD, Calif., March 21, 2012 â€“ On the eve of the third annual Kia Classic Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golf tournament at La Costa Resort and Spa, Kia Motors America (KMA) and two-time LPGA winner Michelle Wie paired up today to donate $50,000 to Operation Hero, one of the keystone programs of the nearby Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA).  The funds, which are intended to help Operation Hero maintain staff and provide equipment and supplies to more than 375 kindergarten and elementary students at Camp Pendleton, commemorate Michelle Wie’s graduation from Stanford University. Operation Hero provides free mentoring and tutoring to at-risk elementary-aged children of military families living at Camp Pendleton, which is home to more than 100,000 men and women of the armed forces and their families.

“As a Southern California-based company and one of the fastest growing auto brands in the U.S., Kia Motors is deeply committed to supporting the local communities in which we do business,” said Tom Loveless, vice president, sales, KMA.  “Operation Hope delivers much needed services and assistance to the children of our military service men and women and it is our privilege to make a contribution in partnership with Michelle Wie and celebrate her college graduation in a special and meaningful way.”

“Our after school program, Operation Hero, is our most critical program for the young military children attending the five elementary schools on Camp Pendleton,” said George Brown, Executive Director, Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA.  “While reducing their stress levels, the program provides the children skills to be successful socially and academically at both home and school.” 

The donation comes prior to Michelle Wie’s participation in the third annual Kia Classic, from March 19-25 at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., in which a strong field of the LPGA players from around the world will compete for a $1.7 million purse with the winner taking home a first-place check for $255,000 and one of the first range-topping Optima Limited sedans to roll off the production line at Kia’s U.S. manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia.

Tseng's success at the early age of 23

Thu, 22/03/2012 - 14:19

By Ward Clayton

Yani Tseng may be the most successful 23-year-old golfer ever … after being the best 21- and 22-year-old. The Taiwanese sensation continues to climb the historical charts with her play, particularly her record over the past year when she has become a dominant force in golf.

Tseng took over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings on Feb. 14, 2011 and has been in that spot ever since (58 consecutive weeks). Her points margin over No. 2 Na Yeon Choi this week is nearly double (17.27-9.11) after she won last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup for her second win this season in four starts. In the six-year history of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, the largest differential between first and second occurred on April 2, 2008 when Lorena Ochoa held a 9.87-point lead over second-place Annika Sorenstam.

In her career, Tseng has won 14 times on the LPGA, 34 times worldwide and is the fastest to reach the $8-million mark in career earnings.

In a historical comparison, LPGA career wins leader Kathy Whitworth (88 wins) won twice by age 23, Mickey Wright six times by 23 and Sorenstam didn't win for the first time until she was 24. Tiger Woods won 15 times before he turned 24.

There have been links made recently to the rise of Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in the men’s game because of their similarity in age and performance over the past year. McIlroy held the No. 1 spot for two weeks in early March before England’s Luke Donald reclaimed the top spot earlier this week.

Here’s a look at their past 12 months, with totals for all professional Tours (since mid-April 2011):

Category Tseng McIlroy Age (Birthday) 23 (Jan. 23) 22 (May 4) Starts  23  25 Wins 10 4 Majors 2 1 Top-10s   16  17 Streaks  7 wins in last 12 starts 12 of last 13 in top 5

                                                                             

Kia Classic Pre-tournament notes and interviews

Thu, 22/03/2012 - 03:03

Kia Classic
La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, Calif.
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
March 21, 2012

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Sandra Gal, Rolex Rankings No. 39

The LPGA Tour returns to La Costa Resort and Spa this week for the third-annual Kia Classic. Defending champion Sandra Gal will test her game on a new golf course after defeating Jiyai Shin by one stroke last season at Pacific Palms outside of Los Angeles. Gal, who fired rounds of 67-68-70-71, captured the victory with one of the season’s most dramatic shots, a clutch wedge from 83 yards to three feet for a birdie and the victory. She went on to earn five additional top-10 finishes in 2011.

The Kia Classic debuted at La Costa Resort and Spa in 2010, when sponsor exemption Hee Kyung Seo won the event as a member of the Korean LPGA (KLPGA). Seo went on to join the LPGA Tour in 2011, winning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. In 2011, the tournament moved north on I-5 due to renovations at La Costa. The 2012 edition of the Kia Classic will be played on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa.

Another hot start: The 2012 LPGA season has barely gotten underway with only four events having taken place so far this season. Still, Yani Tseng has already made a strong statement that perhaps this season will be a repeat of the dominant performance she put together in 2011.

Tseng has won two of the first four events on the LPGA Tour this season, including last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. The No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings has five wins in her last 11 starts dating back to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G last September. It’s certainly been an incredible run for Tseng but she said that while 2012 seems like a continuation of 2011, she had to put that season behind her in order to find success in 2011.

“This year at the beginning I was starting with a little pressure, lots of pressure on myself,” Tseng said. “. But after the first week in Melbourne, and I felt it was getting much better and relaxed a little bit. The second week in Thailand was huge for me. That gave me lots and lots of confidence, and it gave me lots of encouragement to know that I can do it. I believed that I can play well like last year.

So the second week in Thailand was just huge for me. I've been having fun, and I've been really enjoying my last four tournaments. And this week in Kia, I'm really looking forward to it. Lots of Chinese people live here and lots of Chinese and Taiwanese are coming out to support us. I'm very looking forward to seeing them on the golf course. I think it's going to be a fun week.”

The gift of education: Michelle Wie finished up her college career last week by taking her last set of finals at Stanford to complete her Communications degree, which she is set to receive during graduation ceremonies on June 17. It was a significant moment in Wie’s educational life and on Wednesday, the 22-year-old golfer partnered with Kia Motors to deliver a donation that should help to deliver many similar significant educational moments for others.

Wie and Kia Motors announced Wednesday that they are donating $50,000 to Operation Hero, a non-profit program run by the Camp Pendleton Armed Services YMCA which provides free tutoring and counseling to more than 375 children that live on base.

“I'm a big fa

Ryu leads Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race

Wed, 21/03/2012 - 16:15
Heading into the fifth event of the season, the Kia Classic, So Yeon Ryu has a large lead in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Ryu's season got off to a hot start when she finished T2 at the first event of the season, the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. She followed that up two weeks later with a T11 finish at the HSBC Women's Champions.

Last week the LPGA Tour kicked off its domestic season at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. After battling the rain, wind, hail, and lightning during the final round, Ryu held on to a fourth place finish to boost her higher in the rookie race. Ryu isn't a stranger to success as she won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open in a playoff against fellow Korean Hee Kyung Seo.

 

Rank Player Points Events 1 So Yeon Ryu 198.00 3 2 Lexi Thompson 73.00 3 3 Cydney Clanton 32.00 2 4 Lizette Salas 28.00 1 5 Mo Martin 26.00 2 T6 Rebecca Lee-Bentham 10.00 2 T6 Danielle Kang 10.00 2 T6 Victoria Tanco 10.00 2 T9 Numa Gulyanamitta 5.00 3 T9 Sandra Changkija 5.00 2

Stats and Stuff: Kia Classic

Wed, 21/03/2012 - 15:47

In this week's Stats and Stuff, Ward Clayton recaps the recent play on Tour.

 

Miyazato’s scoring average

Ai Miyazato has not won on the LPGA thus far this season, but she leads the LPGA in Scoring Average. In three starts, the 26-year-old Japanese star has finished second twice – both times behind Yani Tseng – and tied for sixth. In 12 rounds thus far, she has recorded nine rounds in the 60s, with a low of 65, and just one round over par (73). Her scoring average is 68.31. The Scoring Average leader at the end of the season receives the Vare Trophy.

The top five in Scoring Average thus far this season:

1 Ai Miyazato 68.31 2 Yani Tseng 68.95 3 Na Yeon Choi 69.06 4 Shanshan Feng 69.50 5 So Yeon Ryu 70.13

 

Tseng’s fast start

Yani Tseng’s fast start should be a concern for her competitors on the LPGA Tour. Since becoming a member of the LPGA in 2008, Tseng has won four times in her first four starts on the season (16 tournaments total). This year, she has won twice in the first four starts for her best career start to a season.

A look at Tseng’s first four tournament starts annually: 2008: 0 wins, 2 top-10 finishes 2009: 0 wins, 3 top-10 finishes 2010: 1 win, 3 top-10 finishes 2011: 1 win, 3 top-10 finishes 2012: 2 wins, 4 top-10 finishes

Close finishes continue

With last week’s one-stroke victory by Yani Tseng at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, the 2012 season is off to a historic competitive start, matching the 2002 season. The first four events this year have been determined in two playoffs and two with one-stroke victory margins. The 2002 season began with two playoffs and then had four consecutive tournaments won by one-stroke margins.

Another similarity between 2002 and this year is the dominance of one player. Annika Sorenstam won two of the first four events in 2002 on the way to an 11-win season. Tseng has won two of the first four tournaments this year.

A look at the 2002 start:

Tournament Winner Margin LPGA Takefuji Classic Annika Sorenstam First hole of 2-player playoff PING Banner Health Rachel Teske Second hole of 2-player playoff Welch’s/Circle K Championship Laura Diaz 1 stroke Kraft Nabisco Championship Annika Sorenstam 1 stroke The Office Depot Challenge Se Ri Pak 1 stroke Longs Drugs Challenge Cristie Kerr 1 stroke

 

Lincicome’s streak

Brittany Lincicome missed the cut at last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. That was a rarity for the 26-year-old from Seminole, Fla. The last time Lincicome missed the cut was at the 2010 Kia Classic, a streak of 45 consecutive made cuts. During that time period, Lincicome has the following results: • 2 wins (both in 2

Rebecca Lee-Bentham: Rookie Blog Two

Wed, 21/03/2012 - 14:55

Hey everyone!

Just finished off my second event of the season at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, and I’m two for two cuts made! Final round was a bit rough- playing in the cold, wind, rain, and hail- but it’s all a learning experience and I’m definitely enjoying the journey. Now I’m in Carlsbad, California getting ready for the Kia Classic!

It’s my 20th birthday today and I just feel so grateful for what God has done in my life. Looking at my past, and realizing where I am now....it’s all truly a blessing. Being a rookie on Tour isn’t always easy, in fact it’s a lot tougher than most people imagine. Waking up anywhere from 4:30am-6:30am every day of the week and working til sundown. The hardest thing is being away from home for so long...it’s been over five months since I’ve been home and I can’t explain how much I miss my family and friends.


But God has given me the opportunity to do greater things than I ever imagined. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s all worth it in the end. Whenever times get hard, God reminds me of what I’m working for. There are millions of people who need help. People who are hungry, people who are sick, people who need a home. No matter how big of a problem I face, I know there is someone out there who is going through worse. I want to take all the opportunities I get to help and change lives. I’ve been given so much in my life to be where I am today and I know how much it means to be cared for by others.

Sometimes in life, it’s hard not to be selfish. We all work hard and want to keep what we’ve earned. But there are people out there who aren’t as fortunate and have to work extremely hard just to survive. There are people out there who don’t have access to the basic needs of life, who are dying every day.
So this year for my birthday I want to start something different. I don’t want to receive any gifts, but instead, I want to give to those who really need it. We’ve been blessed to be born in a country where we don’t have to worry about having enough food and clean water to survive each day. But there are millions of people who need OUR help. For my 20th birthday, I just want to ask all my family and friends to help me raise money to provide clean water for those in need. Below is a link to a campaign I simply created through mycharitywater.org where 100% of donations directly funds clean water projects in developing nations. Here is the link to donate: www.mycharitywater.org/RLBgolf Here is a video with more info about the cause: www.vimeo.com/charitywater/whywater
Thank you so much to all those who donate!!!
~ Rebecca

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The copyrighted content contained on this blog reflects the sole opinion(s) of the author. Such content does not necessarily represent the LPGA's views, opinions, intentions, and/or strategies, and is intended for informational or amusement purposes only.

Kia Classic Pre-tournament notes and interviews

Wed, 21/03/2012 - 14:14
Kia Classic La Costa Resort and Spa Carlsbad, Calif. Pre-tournament notes and interviews March 20, 2012

Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 3

The LPGA Tour returns to La Costa Resort and Spa this week for the third-annual Kia Classic. Defending champion Sandra Gal will test her game on a new golf course after defeating Jiyai Shin by one stroke last season at Pacific Palms outside of Los Angeles. Gal, who fired rounds of 67-68-70-71, captured the victory with one of the season's most dramatic shots, a clutch wedge from 83 yards to three feet for a birdie and the victory. She went on to earn five additional top-10 finishes in 2011. The Kia Classic debuted at La Costa Resort and Spa in 2010, when sponsor exemption Hee Kyung Seo won the event as a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA). Seo went on to join the LPGA Tour in 2011, winning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. In 2011, the tournament moved north on I-5 due to renovations at La Costa. The 2012 edition of the Kia Classic will be played on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa.

Major Focus: This week's Kia Classic is the lead-in for the first LPGA major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. And while everyone in the 144-player field is playing to win this week at La Costa, Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen acknowledged that her focus is already on getting her game in shape for Kraft.

“This week is all about trying to prepare yourself as good as possible so can you go into next week with lots of energy and kind of stress‑free,” Pettersen said.

“Preparing for next week, this is a great little track,” Pettersen said about the South Course at La Costa. “It's a good test off the tee and very small greens, so you've got to be nailing the irons to hit the greens…

Pettersen has one major title to her name, the 2007 McDonalds LPGA Championship, but she has had many close calls at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She has finished runner-up a total of three times at the event (2007, 2008, and 2010).

I've had so many good memories from Kraft,” Pettersen said. “The week is big enough as it is, and it kind of gets the most of you by Sunday.  But it's one of my favorite tournaments.  I think it's one of those courses that suits your eye, and I can't wait to go there.”

 

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Q.  I know you've been working hard on your putting so far this year, and I know you've been working with Dave Stockton.  He's here with this week.  Any specific things that you're working on with him throughout the week? SUZANN PETTERSEN:  We're trying to work on one thing.  Just make it as simple as possible.  Putting should be the easiest thing in the bag to do.  On these greens, it's just trying to get putters that are not fluff because of all the poa annua.  It's pretty simple. Preparing for next week, this is a great little track.  It's a good test off the tee and very small greens, so you've got to be nailing the irons to hit the greens.

Q.  Next week is a big week with the first major of the year coming up.  Does your focus change a little bit when you play in a tournament the week before a major?  We know you've been close so many times at Kraft.  Are there any special feelings for you every time you go to that event? SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I've had so many good memories from Kraft.  I've been awfully close a few times.  You know, this week is all about trying to prepare yourself as good as possible so can you go

Gal talks defending her title this week

Tue, 20/03/2012 - 16:25
LPGA.com caught up with Sandra Gal for a quick Q&A. Gal talks defending her title this week and what she likes to do in San Diego.

LPGA: What are your thoughts on defending your title at another golf course?
Gal: I think it takes a bit of pressure of. The course is redesigned, so everyone will have to learn how to play it.

LPGA: What is the key to playing well at La Costa?
Gal: A couple of years ago, the key was to keep the drives in the fairway as the rou gh was tough to get out of and fliers wouldn’t stop on the tiny greens.

LPGA: How does it match with your game?
Gal: I’ve worked hard in the off-season to increase my fairway hits, so we will find out if the work paid off!

LPGA
: What are your favorite holes?
Gal: I don’t really have favorite holes, unless there is a spectacular view on a certain hole. I treat every hole the same.

LPGA: What are you looking forward to that week?
Gal: I look forward to the experience of defending my title and learning about the course changes. My family and some friends will be out watching as well, which I love.

LPGA: What are your favorite things to do while in San Diego?
Gal: I love the beach and taking walks.

Kia Classic Tournament Preview

Tue, 20/03/2012 - 14:16

The LPGA Tour returns to La Costa Resort and Spa this week for the third-annual Kia Classic.

Defending champion Sandra Gal will test her game on a new golf course after defeating Jiyai Shin by one stroke last season at Pacific Palms outside of Los Angeles. Gal, who fired rounds of 67-68-70-71, captured the victory with one of the season’s most dramatic shots, a clutch wedge from 83 yards to three feet for a birdie and the victory. She went on to earn five additional top 10 finishes in 2011.

Yani Tseng is in the field this week after earning her 14th LPGA career victory at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup on Sunday. She became the fastest to reach the $8 million mark in career earnings, taking 4 years, 1 month and 2 days to reach the mark and accomplishing it in 99 events. The previous record had been held by Lorena Ochoa, who reached the $8 million mark in 4 years, 4 months, 16 days. It took Ochoa 115 events to pass the mark.

Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato and 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, each of whom finished in the top five last week,  are all hungry for a victory to kick-start their 2012 season. 

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Choi has recorded two second place finishes this season, finishing just one stroke off Angela Stanford’s pace at the HSBC Women’s Champions and behind Tseng at the Founders Cup.

Miyazato bumps up to Rolex Rankings No. 7 after her second place finish last weekend. She has also posted two second place finishes this season, both falling short to Tseng by one stroke. She has placed in the top 10 in three starts so far.

Ryu tops the Rolex Rookie of the Year charts with 198 points after a fourth place finish last weekend. She opened the 2012 season with a tie for second at the ISPS Handa Australian Open after a playoff with five others to fall just behind Jessica Korda. Ryu finished tied for 11th two weeks later at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

The Kia Classic debuted at La Costa Resort and Spa in 2010, when sponsor exemption Hee Kyung Seo won the event as a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA). Seo went on to join the LPGA Tour in 2011, winning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors.

In 2011, the tournament moved north on I-5 due to renovations at La Costa. The 2012 edition of the Kia Classic will be played on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa.

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