Sports - By Biko Lang on Sunday, December 11, 2011 23:15 - 511 Comments - Post a Comment - Report Abuse
Yani Tseng, at the age of 22, is a Taiwanese golfing sensation and at this moment in time the world’s No. 1 female golfer. And she’s a hero in her native country, a top-draw product endorser for local television ads, and she’s out to conquer the world.
Not bad for someone who grew up on an island where golf is only for rich businessmen, and until Tseng came around. something only Westerners and Japanese (and Koreans) excelled in. Now it’s Taiwan’s turn.
When Yani arrives home at the airport in northern Taiwan after playing a gig overseas, the crowds that meet her in the terminal lobby are so large that she requires the same security detail that usually accompanies mega-stars like Elton John, Super Junior or Lady Gaga. For Tseng’s 92-year-old grandmother, who grew up in a Taiwan with unpaved streets and muddy golfing ranges, memories are made of this.
Will Tseng conquer the world and bring to women’s golf the same excitement that Bill Jean King and Martina Navratilova brought to tennis? Robert Thompson, a professor of mass media and popular culture at Syracuse University, who is always quoted by newspaper reporters looking for a good quote on cultural matters, did not reply to this reporter’s question, and maybe it’s just as well. He always says the same thing, blah blah blah. He has been quoted in American newspapers already over 25,000 times. And that’s a cultural record!
But not everything’s coming up roses for Yani Tseng. Last year, according to Karen Crouse, reporting for the New York Times from Florida, noted that a communist Chinese company, looking ahead to 2016, when golf becomes an Olympic sport, reportedly offered Tseng millions of American dollars, the use of a private jet and an apartment in Beijing to change her nationality so she could represent communist China instead of free and democratic Taiwan, a sovereign nation unto itself.
“I didn’t think too much about that [offer],” Tseng told the Times. “I’m just very proud to represent [the LPGA and Taiwan] everywhere.”
At a recent tournament Tseng was asked about playing against men, as her mentor Annika Sorenstam once did in a PGA Tour event. Tani said that if the opportunity presented itself, she would like to try it. Within days, a tournament director in Puerto Rico offered her a sponsor exemption to his 2012 event.
Tseng has often been compared to Sorenstam, a former No. 1 player with a powerful golf game. But temperamentally, “she is more like Shaquille O’Neal, the playful former N.B.A. superstar,” Crouse mused.
Can she speak English? You bet she can, although four years ago, her command of English was so poor and her self-confidence in speaking the Queen’s English so low, she was often reluctant to speak, according to sports sources.
Tseng turned pro in 2007 and earned her L.P.G.A. playing privileges for the 2008 season, when she won her first major, at the L.P.G.A. Championship, and rookie of the year honors. She won 23 worldwide titles in her career, 12 on the L.P.G.A. tour.
“On the course, Tseng is a beguiling mix of fire and nice, and walks with her shoulders forward,” the Times glowed, “but her smile takes the edge off her aggression.”
She dresses in slacks or shorts, sports a fashionable short hairdo and “would sooner hit out of a poison ivy patch than wear a skirt to play,” Crouse noted. Is she a tomboy?
Childhood photos and pictures from her teen years show a young girl determined to make in the world, tomboy or not.
Tseng followed her dad, a middle-class recreational golfer, on to the green links of Taiwan, and now she is, some say, ”the Arnold Palmer of women’s golf, increasing the sport’s visibility with her genial nature and go-for-broke playing style.” the Times reported.
The woman is a hit in Taiwan, that’s for sure. She drew more fans at the LPGA Taiwan Championship in October than Tiger Woods did at the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic in Taiwan, according to sports journalist Julie Wang, who told Crouse: “We had 60,000 people in four days come, 20,000 fans in the final round. We never had a sight like that before.”
Tseng was voted the fourth most influential figure in Taiwan in a television poll in 2010, just behind the nation’s handsome president, a popular female politician and the electronics boss Terry Gou. Soon, Yani might take first place. Stay tuned.
This post was submitted by Biko Lang.
Entertainment News > Sports > Yani Tseng Taiwan Golf Gold
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