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Tseng Hoping to Re-Start Season at Royal Liverpool; Opens with 72
After starting off with a bang with three wins in the first two months of the 2012 season, Yani Tseng has been in a dry spell since her last victory in the Kia Classic in late March. Still ranked No. 1 in the world, the 23-year-old from Taiwan there have been some uncharacteristic lapses in Tseng's game since then.
If there's any tournament where Tseng can turn things around it's the Women's British Open; she's won the past two titles, with her victory last year at Carnoustie a four-stroke romp over Brittany Lang. That also was her fifth major title.
The 2012 Women's British Open started Thursday at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England. In brisk weather, Tseng got out early and opened with a fairly promising even-par 72.
On the eve of the championship Tseng discussed for halting her spate of recent disappointing finishes and chances for a three-peat in the Women's British Open. Here's what she told reporters Wednesday.
MODERATOR: What do you think of the course?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I love the golf course, I love the way they set it up, I think it's much better. I know it's very tough out there and in the weather conditions, it's not as good, but I love this week and always very happy to be back here for this British Open and the history, tradition. I just love the course. I think you have so many different imagination out there, just need to really work the ball and really just have fun out here and I can't wait to tee off tomorrow.
MODERATOR: You had a great start to the year, and you tailed off a little bit. You seem to be coming back; would that be a fair summation of your year so far?
YANI TSENG: I know I was a little struggling the last couple months, but I think it's a good time to be back here and I think it's my turn to start playing well again. I think Rory is very good for me to look at, because Rory McIlroy, he was a little down the last couple months, but after he won the PGA Championship, he won another two. So I'm like, okay, now it's my turn to win it again. I learned a lot from him, especially this year and I just feel very appreciative of what I have done these couple years. I just feel very thankful and appreciative to be here, and this is what I love. I love playing golf, and I should not be any stressful than anyone else out here because of how much I've done and I should be very, very happy.
Q. Tiger said he finally met you at Notah Begay's charity event. What did you guys talk about and what did you take from that meeting?
YANI TSENG: It's my first time I met Tiger, so it was very, very exciting. I'm a big fan of his. Before I go there to play, I wasn't that excited - but after being there with Rickie Fowler, great player, Tiger Woods and Notah Begay. I felt it's my honor to be there for a charity event. I just learned so much from him and he's very nice to talk to him and he's was really nice to me. I mean, everything is just fun. It was very exciting and I had great fun that week and I wish I can go back again.
Q. You said you learned from Rory McIlroy; what have you learned?
YANI TSENG: I watched his interviews, a few interviews, and I learn from his interviews what he thinks and what he looks at and when he was struggling and what he - how he enjoys playing on the course and ignoring anyone else out there and just really enjoys on his own and focus on his own things and doesn't worry about how other players look at him. And he was being very patient, because when you play good, everybody says good things about you. But when you have a couple bad weeks, people start asking what's wrong with you. But there's nothing wrong. Golf is not that easy and you cannot win every week.
I read his interview and he was saying, as I was saying, he loves this game when he was a kid and there's nothing that can get him stressful, because this is his dream, and at 17, too, I feel like I'm living the dream and it's a dream come true, too. It doesn't matter how I play, in the British Open, in the major, being an LPGA player, it's already good enough for me. I don't want to put any more expectations on it because the expectation is just really hard because this year I feel really, really tough.
I'm very hard on myself this year and I'm never like that before. I'm always, just enjoy your round and heading out everywhere, but this year, kind of changed it a little bit. And now I want to get back and enjoy the game again and smile on the golf course as I used to do. This week my goal is just to have fun like anyone else out there and show my smile to the fans out here.
YANI TSENG: The smile can make the weather better I think. The weather is bad right now, but I feel amazing. You expect weather like this. I feel like I can get used to it. I really like this weather and playing in this conditions, it's going to be fun.
Q. You talked about expectations or if there were outside expectations; can you talk about how you let those affect you, and how they affected you and did you lose focus, or what did you lose in that period of time where you were kind of not playing your best?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think it's both. I'm very hard on myself, and I'm a personality that I really care what people talk about me. I should not look at all the interviews about me and all of the things they talk about me, but I always love to look what they talk about me. But when I look back, it's all negative things, what I still looked at and I think it really affected my heart, and I think sometimes it really breaks my heart, like why did they say that. I know that I didn't play good that week but why just people really disappointed in what I did, and maybe they don't understand or maybe they really don't know how tough is the golf. And sometimes I'm very hard on myself, too. I feel like I can play well every week, and how can I be struggling when I play my best.
But I was talking to Juli, and Tiger was saying, the longer you're playing, you're going to get stressful. Everybody is the same. It's hard to always be on top. You go down, you go up more. So now this is a time I'm being appreciative because it's better two months than three months and it's always better than a whole year. I feel like I'm learning a lot this next year, I'll look back on this time and it's probably my best time. So I feel if I can win again, that will probably be my best trophy ever.
Q. After last year's Women's British Open, you said you were disappointed that you did not play Carnoustie in tough conditions and it was quite tame. It seems like you got what you wished for with Royal Liverpool. Does that even the field for a player who is struggling a little bit, or does it make it more difficult coming into an event knowing it's tough conditions?
YANI TSENG: The tougher they are, I'll just be more happier, I don't know why. I feel I'm ready. I'm ready to rock. I just feel like if I shot even, 16 under to win a tournament, this golf course, even you can win a tournament, the ground is not as hard and it's not as rolling as much like in 2006 when the men is playing here. Like yesterday I played in the pro-am and I was hitting like ten times 3 iron for my second shot, and it was really tough out there. But today, they played much better because the wind is not as strong but I think it's going to be a great challenge out there. It's going to get stressful. For everybody, it's going to be the same. I'm just going to stay patient and enjoy this golf course. I don't know why, I'm just excited to go out and challenge on this golf course.
Q. You had such an amazing year last year, are part of your struggles this year that you came to expect that every year would be like that? And do you appreciate more how amazing that was last year?
YANI TSENG: I do appreciate more right now, I really do. I thought last year - after three wins starting this year, I thought it's kind of normal, but I feel like it's nothing like normal. It's pretty incredible last year, and beginning of this year - I'm feeling like golf is easy. When you're in a tournament, you feel like you can win. But these last couple months, if you don't have that confidence, you cannot play well. So I just really need to get that confidence back that when I'm out on the golf course, I'm the best; and to play the game, just go and enjoy and don't worry about anyone else and don't worry about myself, because the only thing that can get me stressful is if I'm thinking against myself. So now I'm turning the other way, I'm not thinking that much and I just want to show the fans my big smile and play the game that I love and show the people, playing for this wonderful event.
Q. How tough do you think it's going to make the hat trick?
YANI TSENG: This week I didn't expect winning or anything. I kind of expect to enjoy being out there and be patient and do the job I'm doing, so everybody come here, they want to win this tournament. I just try not to think too much and enjoy and be patient is my key this week.
Q. Who do you think your biggest rivals are this week?
YANI TSENG: I mean, last two months, I didn't play the best game that I have, so I think this week, I feel it's my turn. I feel I'm ready to see how see how can I play on this golf course. I'm ready to see how many good shots I can hit on this golf course, how many good shots I can play under these conditions. I think that's what drives me, very exciting, like I want to see play well again, making some putts, hitting some good shots into the wind. Doesn't matter how they end up, but when you hit the shot, it just gives you so many excitement.
Q. Your draw, do you think that will be a benefit?
YANI TSENG: It's perfect, I love playing with Ai and I love playing with Paula, especially with Ai Miyazato, we are from Asia and we drive each other to be better players and we kind of give each other motivation, and we are good friends, too. So I'm very excited, and thanks for giving me a good draw. I'm looking forward and I can't wait to play with those two players.
Q. What other Koreans are you looking out for this week?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, last week and this week, it's totally different, it's nothing like the same as the States. So this links course, everybody has a different game, so you just really think about how did you play on this course, how did you play on this course. There are so many great Korean players that are playing so good, but it just gives us the motivation to push us to get better and better. You have to work hard out here to play well and win in a tournament, so those players that are here, they really give us like a tough time that we need to work hard to be there.
Q. You said you learned from Rory; what advice would you give to Lydia Ko?
YANI TSENG: She needs to give me a lot of advice. She's only 15 and she wins a big tournament, Canadian Open, by like three or four shots. How can I give her advice? She's a great player. When I look at her, I watch her play a few shots on TV and a few holes, and when I look at her, I kind of think about myself, that's how I played when I played my best. She was smiling and you could tell how confident she is, how comfortable she is and like every shot she's hitting, she's very confident. She's not worried about anything. She doesn't have any pressure and she just wants to go out there and be an LPGA player. I was very impressed. I know she's here this week and hopefully week meet each other sometime.
Q. When you talked to Tiger, did you ask him about Royal Liverpool and is there anyone else that you've talked to about this golf course?
YANI TSENG: You know, I forgot. I really forgot. (Laughter) after I met - I forgot to ask Tiger, Royal Liverpool. I was just so excited to meet him, so I forgot everything else. I was going to ask people like, oh, I can't remember myself to ask him, so I didn't get any tips. But this week there is some media walking around the course and they was here in 2006, so I kind of asked them how Tiger was acting here, how he played. But I know it's going to play like a totally different golf course, but I watched a little bit of video of 2006 - but don't tell anyone else, it's a secret about the players. I kind of watch him so I know a little bit.
Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the event in Norway?
YANI TSENG: I very enjoy, playing with Lorena and Annika, it's my first time and huge honor to be there, and to be with the best player ever - it's just so exciting. Laura still can play so well. She hits it so far and still gets on in two on par-5s. We played a scramble format, so that was very exciting to be there with them and to support my friends. I think she's done so much for Norway golf and I'm very happy for her and how much she's done.
Q. Was Annika playing?
YANI TSENG: Oh, Annika played very well but she don't play as much, but she's very consistent the whole time like greens and fairway and make a putt and she always be like that. It's funny that Lorena and Annika, even though they are retired, their routine never changes even when they play, every little part that I see has never changed.
Q. Can you talk about the adjustment of coming from Williamsburg to hot and humid conditions and coming to play in this situation and what you change in your bag, if anything, for this week?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, actually this is my first time I had my 3 iron in my bag, because I think this golf course, you really need to keep the ball low, and especially in September, the wind is blowing so much more than when we play in July and August. So I brought my 3 iron in the bag, I take my 22 off. I'm hitting so many 3 iron shots, so I'm hitting it good. And the weather - I'm from Orlando, but last week I went to Norway a few days and I feel like I get a little sick, too. But everything else is fine, and just everybody is expecting this weather, so I don't think there is nothing much here, just stay warm and keep your head warm and things should be fine.
Q. Are there any standout holes that you've seen so far?
YANI TSENG: I'm trying to think of what's my favorite hole. I think on No. 14, it's a very tough hole. I saw it on video, Tiger holed a 4 iron with a second shot there, because the second shot - I think the last four holes is kind of very important, because on the 14th hole, I don't think you can hit - for me, I cannot hit driver there, but still leaves the second shot long, I need 3 iron or 4 iron for the second shot.
I think right side everything goes down and on the last few holes, two par-5s and a long par-4 on No.17, and it's like if you - I would say if you had a two- or three-shot lead for the last four holes, it would be perfect. I think you need that because that way you can play more - you cannot be aggressive on the last few holes. So I think - but every hole, I feel like I'm liking every hole because I think especially the wind, most of the wind is crosswind and there's nothing that really goes downwind or into the wind so it really plays very different the front nine and back nine. The way I played, I love the front nine better because the wind is right to left. But for the people hitting a draw, probably they think back nine is better because the wind is left to right. So I think the course shows everybody different shots because that way you challenge more.
Q. Are there any specific shots you've been practicing?
YANI TSENG: Just low, doesn't matter if it's downwind or into the wind, every day I'm hitting the punch, easy shot and low.
Q. How often in the year would you have a 3 iron in the bag?
YANI TSENG: I've never had a 3 iron in the bag but this week is my first time, and I've been hitting like five, six shots on these couple days.
Q. And has it come easily to you?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I feel pretty confident hitting 3 iron. So I mean, I just started like on Monday and I got it and I just love the club and I feel much more confident than the rescue. I was thinking a lot because the last two years, I didn't change, so should I keep like the same with my 22 because maybe a little superstition. But I think 3 iron is a good choice and it's a good call for this week.
YANI TSENG: I don't know, I think it's very close to my 22 shaft but I really have no idea. But it comes out good. I hit a few shots and they all come out very good.
Q. Have you ever hit a 1 iron?
YANI TSENG: No, I never did.
Q. Laura Davies hits a lot of 1 irons; have you watched her?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I watch her hitting irons on the tee a lot. She's very strong, so she can hit the ball very well. I don't know if she have like 2 iron or something, but I see her hit a lot.
Q. I'm sure you've heard that the conditions for the next few days are supposed to be pretty severe. I know in the States and the other majors, you really don't get to see those conditions. Is it something that's in the back of your mind that you look forward to something different this week?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I'm very looking forward to win. I feel like this is perfect; I'm happy for me. If I hit a 3-iron - other players are going to hit, I mean, 5-wood or rescue. I think a long hitter is going to love this golf course and if the wind is blowing, it's really quite tough. If they set it up like pretty similar to these couple days, I'm from Taiwan. The wind is very blowing out there so I'm very looking forward. The Friday it's going to be like 40 miles, 50 miles, but if we are able to play, I'm excited to have this challenge.
Q. How old were you when you first hit your first shot?
YANI TSENG: I think I was five, and because both of my parents, they are both playing golf and they take me to the driving range. I just really loved - it's been 18 years, and I still love this game.
Q. What country do you come?
YANI TSENG: Taiwan.
MODERATOR: Yani, thank you very much.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.