For most golfers the dreaded s-word is shank. For those who play this maddening game for a living, a more dreaded s-word may be slump. For the first time in 23-year-old Yani Tseng's career, the word slump is being used regularly. In 2011, Yani won 12 times worldwide and became the youngest player to win five major championships. After three early wins in 2012, Yani stretched her lead in the Rolex Rankings to margins approaching those of Tiger Woods at his peak. But in 10 starts over the past five months Yani has no wins, three missed cuts (gasp!) and a closing nine of 45 at the U.S. Women's Open. On Aug. 19 in Portland she had her first top 20 finish since the first week of June. What happened to Superwoman? Here's what I believe: Yani realized what every great player has at some point come to realize—that golf is a really hard game, and being in contention week after week is taxing both physically and emotionally. Golf messes with everyone's mind. Sure, there has been a significant drop in Yani's performance (1.3 more shots per round from a year ago), but before we sling the word slump around too liberally, let's remember to put this in perspective. In 1991, Scott Verplank missed the cut or withdrew in 25 of 26 starts. That is a slump. Five months of less than stellar play is a cause for concern, but more than anything, it presents a chance for Yani to reassess, reapply and renew. And by the way, there is one more major on the LPGA calendar this year. A win at Royal Liverpool and the s will stand for six majors. Not bad for a slumping 23-year-old.
Dottie Pepper is a 17-year LPGA veteran and a reporter for NBC.