On July 31, 2011, 22-year-old Yani Tseng became the youngest woman or man to ever win five golf majors at such a young age. That is right, man or woman! She defended her British Open title in July at Carnousite, Scotland by coming from behind to beat America’s Brittany Lang. She started the day two strokes down to the third round leader Germany’s Caroline Masson and went on to finish four strokes ahead of Lang.
This record-breaking accomplishment was hardly noticed by the mainstream sports media. It is hard to believe that this extremely talented athlete’s performance was completely overshadowed by the media’s obsession with what Tiger Woods is doing. It truly raises the question: What do female athletes have to do to get the attention that they are due?
Yani is mentally strong. She makes notes to herself in her yardage book to watch her posture, keep her chin up, make a good preparation for the shot, smile, and look forward. She hums to herself between shots to stay relaxed. Other players state that she’s aggressive and confident. Aren’t these the characteristics of youth?
Yani is well on her way to breaking all the LPGA records. She is halfway to matching Annika Sorenstam’s performance of winning 10 majors. Annika was 32 when she won her first major. It is not inconceivable that Yani can even exceed Patty Berg’s record of winning 15 majors.
Yani Tseng was born in Taiwan and started to golf at age five. Before becoming an LPGA player, she won four amateur tournaments, including beating Michelle Wie in the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She joined the LPGA in 2008 and was that year’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year.
Also in her first year, the young golfer won the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and has not stopped since. 2010 found her winning three titles, including two majors. There is no question that 2011 has been an unbelievable year for her. She won her first four outings and placed in the top ten in five other tournaments. She won the LPGA Championship in May by 10 strokes, placed second to Stacy Lewis in the Kraft Nabisco, and then won the British Open at the end of July. Her only misstep was at the July 7-10, 2011 U.S. Open when she ended up tied for 15th place. It appeared that she just wanted it too much and she got in her own way.
The number of golfers, men or women, who have won at least 15 majors is short. Only Jack Nicklaus exceeds Patty Berg in the number of majors won. The list of top major winners includes Patty Berg (15), Mickey Wright (13), Louise Suggs (11), Sorenstam (10), Babe Zaharias (10), and Karrie Webb (7), and PGA Tour golfers Jack Nicklaus (18), Tiger Woods (14), and Walter Hagen (11). Yani Tseng hopes to set a new record.
Tseng has let her golf clubs do the talking for her but to her credit, she also wants to be able to speak to her fans. When she joined the LPGA just four short years ago she spoke no English. She has worked very hard to overcome this and to fit into the U.S. culture. She watches the coverage of her press interviews to see how her English is progressing. Tseng is not shy about seeking advice from Annika Sorenstam (her idol) or swing coach Gary Gilchrist, and is always looking for ways to improve both her golf and her English.
With all this success and accomplishment you would think that the golf media would be all over her. However, the cup had hardly been handed to her when the attention all turned to Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf. Tiger was 24 before he won his fifth major.
What does a girl golfer have to do to get more media attention?
This leads one to think that there remains a huge gap between the sexes when it comes to the media coverage of women’s golf. Is it possible that the fans of women’s golf could nominate Yani Tseng Golfer of the Year? Would such an award bring her the accolades in the media she so rightly deserves?