THE TOURNAMENT WAS SEEMINGLY OVER. Yani Tseng stood on the 18th tee at Carnoustie Golf Links with a three-shot lead over Brittany Lang. In a matter of minutes Tseng could claim her second consecutive Women’s British Open and fifth major title at the age of 22 years, six months and eight days. No one had won five majors so soon, not even Tiger Woods.
That’s when she was visited by ghosts of the past, if just for a moment.
In 1999 French golfer Jean Van de Velde walked to the 72nd hole of The Open Championship with a comfortable three-stroke lead. Then he strolled into history, but not at all like he or the aghast onlookers expected. Van de Velde splashed into the Barry Burn with his approach shot. All he needed was a double-bogey six and his name would be etched on the Claret Jug. He made a seven and lost the four-hole playoff to Paul Lawrie.
Tseng thought of Van de Velde as she walked to the final hole on Sunday. Maybe that was a good thing. She still had to take care of business. It was no time to get sloppy.
“When you come on this golf course, you’re going think about him,” Tseng said. “But I did think about it a little bit.
“I had a three-shot lead so I’d better hit a good drive here to win the tournament. I thought, okay, let’s hit a good drive, finish here.”
And she did, leaving herself about 135 yards to the hole. Still, the ghosts beckoned.
“I hit a 9-iron, and I was thinking about Jean Van de Velde.”
But Tseng isn’t Van de Velde. The Taiwanese star flew that “juiced” 9-iron straight at the flagstick and sank the short birdie putt for a four-shot victory.
Tseng is the new dominant force, not just in women’s golf, but all of golf. With the LPGA Tour adding a major to put five on the annual calendar, Tseng is looking like a serious threat to catch Tiger Woods and even Jack Nicklaus. She is already on a record pace.
−The Armchair Golfer