SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Yani Tseng had the golfing world at her feet during a glorious five-year spell from 2008 that saw the Taiwanese pick up five major victories and top the world rankings for 109 consecutive weeks. Then the wheels fell off.
Following her 15th and final LPGA Tour victory in March 2012, Tseng began to second-guess herself on the course, her form disappeared along with the ever-present smile and the barren run saw her slip to 90th in the world just two weeks ago.
To say she was washed up at the age of 26 would have been an unfair assessment of her golfing future but with a lack of top 10s overshadowed by a plethora of missed cuts, it was hard to envisage Tseng competing with emerging stars like Park In-bee and Lydia Ko.
Tseng knew she needed to act and opted to go back to a style of inhibition-free golf at the start of the season and the “just whack it” approach appeared to be paying dividends with a solid second-place finish in Thailand last week.
On Thursday, Tseng was brilliant in the first round of the HSBC Women’s Champions event in Singapore, her six-under 66 earning her a tie for first place alongside South Korea’s Park and two strokes clear of Ko.
“Oh, it’s fun... it’s so much fun,” Tseng told reporters of her resurgence. “Like I tell my friends and parents that they don’t have to scroll down to see my name on the website any more. They can see me right on top of the first page.”
Despite the promising signs, Tseng was not thinking too far ahead and remains focused on the present rather than the future.
“Yeah, it’s a marathon not a sprint,” she added. “I want to play one shot at a time, like today, I finished with six-under. I don’t know how many birdies I made, so that’s how I need to feel out there.
“Tomorrow is another new day and it’s very exciting out there... I will try to not think too much about Sunday.”
Tseng also believes a few changes in the off-season have helped revive her fortunes as well as having a fresher outlook.
“I changed to a new trainer, new coach and started working on the mental side of the game more and more. I feel more awareness of myself now. It actually helps me a lot, too,” she said.
“Self-talk is one of the biggest things out there, because like I say, I tried to be patient and if I don’t tell myself to be patient, it’s hard to be patient.
“I’m very, very happy. I’m happy that I’m playing good golf again.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty