The Next Tiger Woods May Already Be on the Scene…

Professional golf is looking for a new hero…a replacement for Tiger Woods…someone who can dominate the sport…kick butts and take names…but take no prisoners.

A few weeks ago many golf pundits named 22-year old Rory Mcllroy from Northern Ireland Tiger’s heir apparent after he won his first major title. But with just two tour wins and one major, Rory may have the game but doesn’t yet have enough success banked to deserve that anointing-not yet anyway.

One person who does, however, is being tragically overlooked because she is the wrong gender and plays for the LPGA, not the PGA Tour. However, unlike Michelle Wie who tried to win on the men’s circuit before securing titles on the women’s tour, this young Taiwanese lady is doing it the right way-winning big time and consistently in her own league first.

I’m talking about Yani Tseng, the other somewhat forgotten 22-year old professional golfer who is setting records that upstage many set by Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Annika Sorenstam. Of course, getting off to a fast start doesn’t ensure a record-breaking finish, but what she has done thus far, especially being less than 23 years old, is quite impressive.

Were she male and American, the media would be hyping her every round.

I find most male golfers have little or no interest in women’s golf. The ladies aren’t exciting enough. They don’t drive it 300+ yards. They usually don’t post enough 60s, 61s, and 62s or rattle off 6 or 7 birdies in a row. They don’t drive par-4s or make lots of eagles in the same rounds. They are attractive enough, but they aren’t uber-personalities. However, they know how to play and many have great games! Yani is one of the best…potentially THE best ever. Only time will tell.

Nancy Lopez had the charisma; Jan Stephenson had the looks; Karrie Webb had the game; Annika Sorenstam had even more game and the killer-attitude; Lorena Ochoa did too! Yani Tseng is off to a fabulous start with her career, a start that, if sustained, will have them all in her rearview mirror.

At age 22 years and 6 months and 22 days, she just nailed down her 10th LPGA Tour victory. This year alone she has eight victories worldwide and five here on the LPGA Tour, two of them majors-the women’s PGA Championship and her second British Open title. She has won five majors thus far and is by a significant degree, the golfer to accomplish that feat at the earliest age-10 years sooner than Annika’s pace, four years faster than Jack’s, and almost two years ahead of both Se Ri Pak’s and Tiger’s. That folks is impressive!…whether from a PGA Tour, European Tour, or LPGA Tour player.

In fact, had she won the U.S. Women’s Open title at Broadmoor in July, she would have completed a career Grand Slam before turning 23-a feat unapproached even by golf’s best men-Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and, yes, Tiger Woods.

She’s winning wire-to-wire, coming from behind, lapping the field by 10 strokes, and clawing and scratching to win playoffs. She’s defending titles and winning new ones.

She is atop this year’s money list with winnings that exceed $2.1 million. Currently #1 in the Rolex worldwide rankings, she leads in Player-of-the-year considerations and possesses the year’s lowest scoring-average for the season-69.59 with her nearest competitor, Cristie Kerr, at 70.35. [The LPGA record belongs to Annika with 68.696 in 2004]

Tseng’s stats for 2011 are rather mind-boggling. Playing 16 LPGA events, she has won five times and finished Top-10 an amazing 10 times, and even more impressively 7 times in the Top-3. She is #1 in several critical indicators of success-rounds under par (38/54), birdies (249), GIR (75.1%), and driving distance (268.370 yards). She’s third in eagles (7) and putts per GIR (1.757). Her only shortcomings may be driving accuracy (101st), sand saves (20%), and some inconsistent putting-often deadly from 10-12 feet but sometimes missing pressure-packed five-footers. But she clearly has the heart, the attitude, and the swagger of a champion. She is 2 and 1 in playoffs and is becoming an “intimidator.”

In Rolex World Golf Ranking points she is first with 778.75 total (2nd is 509.97) and averages 15.57 (2nd is 12.22). Coming on the LPGA scene in 2008, Nini (as she is referred to by friends) was slower than several others to log her fifth and tenth tour victories, but she is the second youngest in her sport to win her first major and as mentioned before, the fastest ever-men or women-to win five majors.

Her resume thus far is outstanding and barring injuries or other catastrophes, she has a most amazing career ahead of her. In my opinion, she already has both the “eyes and the head of the Tiger.” It remains to be seen what more she can add to her overall “tale.” [sic]

Golfers like Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, and Annika Sorenstam have set the career accomplishment bar on the LPGA Tour at lofty heights. Yani Tseng looks like she has the game and the attitude to join that remarkable group and perhaps move that bar up a notch or two in the process.

©2011, FMK

Frank M. Krakowski, MD


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