Yani Tseng bought Annika Sorenstam's old house in Orlando, but their styles on a golf course couldn't be more distinct. If Sorenstam's stoic demeanor was the accompaniment to her greatness, Tseng plays golf with an ever-constant grin. "I just keep telling myself, Commit to the shot and keep your tempo right, and keep smiling all 18 holes," says Tseng, who on Sunday won the Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif., by a shot over Suzann Pettersen to take her second career major. "I smiled to the fans, to TV, to everyone here."
This is an article from the April 12, 2010 issue
Major championships are usually short on smiles, but the 21-year-old Tseng is gaining a reputation for being at her happiest—and best—in golf's toughest tournaments. Her first victory came two years ago, during her rookie season, when she won the LPGA Championship while showing off her flair for long drives and even bigger grins.
Now Tseng, who is from Taiwan, is the latest golfer to take aim at Lorena Ochoa's tenuous hold as the No. 1 player in the world. (Ochoa finished fourth at the Kraft.) While Tseng, who's now No. 2, and Ochoa have each won two majors, Ochoa of late has seemed as testy on the golf course as Tseng has been mirthful. On Sunday, Ochoa bogeyed the 13th hole, swiped at her skirt and spiked her ball on the green so hard that she had to repair the ball mark. Ochoa's anger prompted CBS broadcaster and Hall of Famer Beth Daniel to say, "This is a reaction that we've seen from her that we did not see from her several years ago. She's started to get so angry with herself and show that emotion."
Ochoa, 28, talked before the tournament about the changes in her life and her future. Last year she married Andres Conesa, the CEO of AeroMexico, and moved from Guadalajara to Mexico City. Conesa has three children from a previous relationship, and Ochoa has spoken of one day leaving golf to have children of her own. "My goal is to stay in that Number 1 position as long as I play," Ochoa said. "And then just [at a] different stage for my life, I want to be home. I want to be with my husband. I want to every day do things and be at one place, not traveling with a suitcase."
Sorenstam, a 10-time major champion, retired at the end of 2008 at 38 and started a family, but she still has some ties to the tour. In January, when Tseng was looking for help with her game, she called on Sorenstam. "My friend called her to see if she'd have time to talk with me because I felt like I was struggling," Tseng said. "She told me, 'Everything outside the ropes you need to just get rid of. When you get inside the ropes, you just want to have fun and play golf, and you don't want to think about too much.'"
With her length off the tee and comfort at the majors Tseng might be more like Sorenstam than anyone realizes.
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At last week's Shell Houston Open, Vaughn Taylor came within a breath of playing his way into the ultimate home game. PGA Tour victors earn a spot in the Masters field, and Houston is the last chance to win and get in. Taylor, who grew up in Augusta, attended Augusta State University and has a home in Augusta, was nearly that man. His final-round 68 put him into a playoff with Anthony Kim (below), but on the first hole Kim negotiated a par while Taylor left his, 18-foot par putt short.
Below is a list of players since 1980 who played their way into the Masters at the final tournament.