“Modified the Recreation” is a Yahoo Sports activities collection devoted to the ladies who are sometimes neglected, under-appreciated or just deserve extra flowers for his or her contributions to girls’s sports activities historical past.
Yani Tseng has completed extra at 32 than some athletes do in a lifetime. She was simply 22 years outdated when she turned the youngest golfer of any gender to win 5 main championships, one thing she completed within the midst of her 109-week reign on the high of the LPGA rankings.
Tseng’s story is extra than simply success and inspiration. Her rise was intently adopted by a shocking fall that not even she will totally clarify. After 109 weeks because the No. 1 feminine golfer on this planet, Tseng stopped profitable. Worse, she stopped contending. She hasn’t gained a match since March 25, 2012.
Now, 10 years after her rise to the highest of the LPGA, Tseng is again — however this time, she’s acquired a brand new angle, a wholesome mindset, and she or he’s doing all of it for herself.
“It hurts lots once you attempt to come again and you retain falling down, falling down, preserve falling, falling, falling,” Tseng advised the Golf Channel in 2020. “However, I’m nonetheless right here.”
Tseng turned professional in 2007 after spending two years as Taiwan’s top-ranked newbie participant. She gained the LPGA Championship, her first main, in 2008 when she was simply 19. She was the primary Taiwanese lady to win an LPGA main match, the youngest to ever win the LPGA Championship and the second-youngest to win any LPGA main.
That was only the start. After a profitable 2009, Tseng gained two extra majors in 2010: the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Girls’s British Open. She was simply 21, making her the youngest feminine golfer to win three main championships within the fashionable period.
Tseng began 2011 with a bang, touchdown on the No. 1 spot within the LPGA rankings on Feb. 14. She would not hand over that spot till March 18, 2013, a span of 109 weeks, the second-longest any LPGA participant has spent at No. 1. And regardless of already making a lot historical past as a golfer, 2011 noticed her make much more. She gained two extra majors, bringing her profession whole to 5. She was simply 22, which made her the youngest golfer in historical past, male or feminine, to win 5 main championships. Tseng had bested Tiger Woods, who did not win his fifth main till he was 25.
Tseng was on the high of her sport and on the high of girls’s golf. She signed main sponsorships again residence. She amassed $2 million in prize cash sooner than any LPGA participant ever. She was a star in Taiwan. She had expertise, focus and drive. There was no cause her success should not proceed. When she gained the Kia Traditional on March 25, 2012, she had no concept that it will be her final win thus far.
There was an incredible quantity of strain on Tseng. She was a sensation in Taiwan, the place one thing so simple as going out for lunch could possibly be information. It was overwhelming, and the media scrutiny did not assist. Having already completed a lot, the media questioned her laborious when she started to slide, asking after she completed within the high 10 (as an alternative of profitable), “Are you in a droop?”
However Tseng additionally put an infinite quantity of strain on herself. After she hit No. 1, she began working towards 12 hours a day.
“I used to be taking a look at [what] I imagined World No. 1 needs to be, somebody a lot better than I’m,” she stated, by way of the AP.
It wasn’t sustainable. After capturing victories in three of the primary 5 LPGA occasions of 2012, issues began to alter. By August, when she was nonetheless ranked No. 1, she had missed the minimize in three of her final 4 occasions.
“I used to be taking part in actually good throughout apply rounds,” Tseng advised Golfweek, “however as soon as it acquired to the match like my thoughts, I used to be dropping management of my thoughts, my swing, my physique. I don’t belief as a lot.”
Tseng modified caddies, and had temporary flashes of success in 2013. She began the season in February with second- and third-place finishes, however did not land within the high 10 once more till August. Within the 15 interim tournaments, she missed the minimize 5 instances. She turned in a handful of top-five finishes in 2014 and 2015, however that was the final time. In 2017 and 2018, she missed the minimize in a minimum of half of the tournaments she performed.
Although Tseng saved making an attempt, saved working to rediscover the shape she had in 2010 and 2011, she could not make it occur.
“I don’t know what number of instances I cried, what number of instances I cried on the course,” she stated to Golfweek.
Attending to know herself
Tseng performed in simply 5 tournaments in 2019, struggling a again harm that brought about her to overlook 23 months on the Tour. However that harm, and the break she wanted to take, helped her in methods she did not anticipate.
Tseng went residence to Taiwan and determined to enroll in a 10-day meditation retreat. There was no speaking, no telephones or computer systems, no eye contact, and that is the place she lastly had no alternative however to look inside herself and face her true emotions and feelings. She spent the primary 5 days crying, releasing years of pressure, strain, ache and expectations.
“I lastly let it go,” she stated. “I don’t wish to stay my life so laborious. I’ve been so laborious on myself.”
Her relationships with family and friends acquired higher after she left, and she or he found that she nonetheless cherished the sport of golf. She had the will to return to the fairways and greens, and as soon as she was wholesome, she’d do it in another way.
“I used to be taking part in golf for another person,” she stated. “I used to be making an attempt to be an individual that individuals wished me to be as an alternative of, that is simply me.”
Tseng’s story remains to be being written, however now she’s the one writing it. She’s returning to golf for herself, as a result of she is aware of she nonetheless has a lot to present.
“Generally I’m stunned I nonetheless have this ardour,” Tseng stated with a chuckle to the Golf Channel. “However each day I get up, I wish to go apply. For me, I simply wish to really feel like I can play comfortable golf once more. I’m pleased with myself. I nonetheless have a whole lot of ardour to present.”