SBD/June 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Yani Tseng Is Dominating Women's Golf, But Has Anyone Noticed?

The 22-year-old Tseng already has won four majors, including two this year
Yani Tseng "has the golf world at her feet" after winning last weekend's Wegmans LPGA Championship by 10 shots, the 22-year-old's fourth major championship, yet "nobody knows who she is," according to Brian Murphy of YAHOO SPORTS. There was a time "when women's golf did not hurt for a superstar," thanks to Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. But with those two retired, "what will it take for Yani Tseng to break through into the mainstream consciousness?" That she is "not American plays a role in the American sports fan’s eye," but Tseng "has taken great strides to ingratiate herself into American culture." Golf fans and media have been "barking up the wrong tree for years," hoping that Michelle Wie will be a star on the course. Murphy: "It's time we all turned our golf attention to the real supernova. It's Yani Tseng" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/27). Tseng also won the LPGA's first major this year, and Sorenstam said, "She set the pace early in the year. She's the face of the LPGA" (GOLFWEEK.com, 6/26). Golf Channel’s Erik Kuselias said, “I’d walk into Michael Whan’s office if I was his deputy or right-hand and I’d say, ‘Look, we can’t wait for Michelle Wie any longer, we can’t wait for anybody else any longer. ... We have to start really building her up as the thing in our sport to watch.'” Golf Channel’s Gary Williams: “You have to tell her story. You have to tell the story of how she moved into Annika Sorenstam’s house and she looked at that trophy case and said, ‘How long is it going to take me to fill this?’" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 6/28).

DOES SOME BLAME FALL ON LPGA? ESPN's Bomani Jones said the LPGA has "dropped the ball" when it comes to promoting Tseng. Jones: "I had never heard of her until 11:00 this morning. And you know what? It’s not my fault because I pay attention to this kind of stuff." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, “I really think what happened to women’s golf is Annika Sorenstam was so big and dominated, and then she left. Then all the stories were about Michelle Wie and playing against men, and that didn’t work out. The rest of women’s golf kind of got left behind.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said when Pro Basketball HOFer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired, he "took the hook shot with him." Ryan: "I thought Annika Sorenstam took the LPGA with her" ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/27). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said Tseng's win "came as a stunner to many people … who had never heard of her.” Kornheiser asked, “Is Tseng’s anonymity her fault or the LPGA’s fault?” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said it is a "product of the situation they’re in,” with players like Sorenstam, Wie, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak and Lorena Ochoa either not playing well or out of the LPGA. Wilbon noted the LPGA plays just 13 events in the U.S., “so the anonymity here, I don’t think she’s anonymous in Asia.” Kornheiser said 22-year-old Rory McIlroy has won one major and “he’s celebrated all over the world." Kornheiser: "That’s the difference between men’s golf and women’s golf, in terms of being a draw. ... But this girl is chatty, she’s killing the ball, she’s very, very likable” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/27).
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