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Yani Tseng’s quick rise and fall in golf

“Changed the Game” is a Yahoo Sports sequence devoted to the ladies who are sometimes missed, under-appreciated or just deserve extra flowers for his or her contributions to ladies’s sports activities historical past.

Yani Tseng has completed extra at 32 than some athletes do in a lifetime. She was simply 22 years outdated when she grew to become the youngest golfer of any gender to win 5 main championships, one thing she completed in the midst of her 109-week reign on the prime of the LPGA rankings.

Tseng’s story is extra than simply success and inspiration. Her rise was carefully adopted by a shocking fall that not even she will be able to absolutely clarify. After 109 weeks because the No. 1 feminine golfer in the world, Tseng stopped successful. Worse, she stopped contending. She hasn’t gained a match since March 25, 2012.

Now, 10 years after her rise to the highest of the LPGA, Tseng is again — however this time, she’s bought a brand new angle, a wholesome mindset, and she’s doing all of it for herself.

“It hurts a lot when you try to come back and you keep falling down, falling down, keep falling, falling, falling,” Tseng told the Golf Channel in 2020. “But, I’m still here.”

Tseng’s rise

Tseng turned professional in 2007 after spending two years as Taiwan’s top-ranked newbie participant. She gained the LPGA Championship, her first main, in 2008 when she was simply 19. She was the primary Taiwanese girl to win an LPGA main match, the youngest to ever win the LPGA Championship and the second-youngest to win any LPGA main.

That was just the start. After a profitable 2009, Tseng gained two extra majors in 2010: the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Women’s British Open. She was simply 21, making her the youngest feminine golfer to win three main championships in the fashionable period.

Tseng began 2011 with a bang, touchdown on the No. 1 spot in the LPGA rankings on Feb. 14. She would not hand over that spot till March 18, 2013, a span of 109 weeks, the second-longest any LPGA participant has spent at No. 1. And regardless of already making a lot historical past as a golfer, 2011 noticed her make much more. She gained two extra majors, bringing her profession complete to 5. She was simply 22, which made her the youngest golfer in historical past, male or feminine, to win 5 main championships. Tseng had bested Tiger Woods, who did not win his fifth main till he was 25.

Tseng was on the prime of her recreation and on the prime of girls’s golf. She signed main sponsorships again house. She amassed $2 million in prize cash sooner than any LPGA participant ever. She was a star in Taiwan. She had expertise, focus and drive. There was no motive her success should not proceed. When she gained the Kia Classic on March 25, 2012, she had no concept that it might be her final win up to now.

Yani Tseng became the youngest golfer regardless of gender to win five majors in a career. Then, she stopped winning.  (Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Yani Tseng grew to become the youngest golfer no matter gender to win 5 majors in a profession. Then, she stopped successful. (Amy Lemus/NurPhoto by way of Getty Images)

Tseng’s fall

There was an amazing quantity of strain on Tseng. She was a sensation in Taiwan, the place one thing so simple as going out for lunch might be information. It was overwhelming, and the media scrutiny did not assist. Having already completed a lot, the media questioned her exhausting when she started to slide, asking after she completed in the highest 10 (as an alternative of successful), “Are you in a slump?”

But Tseng additionally put an infinite quantity of strain on herself. After she hit No. 1, she began working towards 12 hours a day.

“I was looking at [what] I imagined World No. 1 should be, someone much better than I am,” she said, via the AP.

It wasn’t sustainable. After capturing victories in three of the first five LPGA events of 2012, things started to change. By August, when she was still ranked No. 1, she had missed the cut in three of her last four events.

“I was playing really good during practice rounds,” Tseng told Golfweek, “but once it got to the tournament like my mind, I was losing control of my mind, my swing, my body. I don’t trust as much.”

Tseng changed caddies, and had brief flashes of success in 2013. She started the season in February with second- and third-place finishes, but didn’t land in the top 10 again until August. In the 15 interim tournaments, she missed the cut five times. She turned in a handful of top-five finishes in 2014 and 2015, but that was the last time. In 2017 and 2018, she missed the cut in at least half of the tournaments she played.

Though Tseng kept trying, kept working to rediscover the form she had in 2010 and 2011, she couldn’t make it happen.

“I don’t know how many times I cried, how many times I cried on the course,” she said to Golfweek.

Getting to know herself

Tseng played in just five tournaments in 2019, suffering a back injury that caused her to miss 23 months on the Tour. But that injury, and the break she needed to take, helped her in ways she didn’t anticipate.

Tseng went home to Taiwan and decided to enroll in a 10-day meditation retreat. There was no talking, no phones or computers, no eye contact, and that’s where she finally had no choice but to look inside herself and face her true feelings and emotions. She spent the first five days crying, releasing years of tension, pressure, pain and expectations.

“I lastly let it go,” she said. “I don’t want to live my life so hard. I’ve been so hard on myself.”

Her relationships with buddies and household bought higher after she left, and she found that she nonetheless beloved the sport of golf. She had the will to return to the fairways and greens, and as soon as she was wholesome, she’d do it in a different way.

“I was playing golf for someone else,” she mentioned. “I was trying to be a person that people wanted me to be instead of, this is just me.”

Tseng’s story continues to be being written, however now she’s the one writing it. She’s returning to golf for herself, as a result of she is aware of she nonetheless has a lot to present.

“Sometimes I’m surprised I still have this passion,” Tseng said with a chuckle to the Golf Channel. “But every day I wake up, I want to go practice. For me, I just want to feel like I can play happy golf again. I’m proud of myself. I still have a lot of passion to give.”

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