Tseng class above at ANZ Ladies Masters

Yani Tseng has today achieved two further milestones in her already outstanding golfing career. The 22 year old Taiwanese golfer not only became the world number one for the very first time but after first playing the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters in 2005 as a 16 year old, she has finally broken through for her maiden victory at RACV Royal Pines.

Tseng produced a final round of 68 to win by four shots over Australian Nikki Campbell and American Stacy Lewis and in doing so overtook Korea's Jiyai Tseng to claim the leading position in the female game. Seven days earlier Tseng successfully defended her Australian Women's Open title and today she completed a rather productive two weeks in this country.

Tseng began the final round three ahead of American Stacy Lewis and although the gap was closed to two by both Lewis and Campbell in the middle stages of the round she drew clear with birdies at the 9th and 12th. When she hit her 4 iron approach to 10 feet at the par five 15thand converted for eagle it was all but over for her chasers.

Tseng had then moved five shots clear and she had the luxury of enjoying the last few holes in front of a crowd who appreciated the significant golfing moment they were witnessing.

Even at her tender age Tseng has already won three major championships and today she might well have established the base for a long reign at the top of women's golf. She has a powerful game and took advantage of that length by playing the four par fives in a combined 16 under par for the week.

Tseng's only real blemish today came at the 7th when she pulled her tee shot left and then missed the green with her approach. A beautiful approach to the 9th set up and two putt birdie and a three shot lead as she made the turn. She holed from 15 feet at the 12th to move to 22 under par and then came the telling blow at the 15th.

"I never expected this would come so soon," said Tseng when asked about her elevation to the top of the women's game. "There are still lots of things to learn and I have to keep working hard and be very patient. My goal now is to stay as number one and still be there at the end of the year."

"I am very appreciative of being given the opportunity to play this tournament since I was an amateur when I was not as good as now. The chance to play with all the best golfers over the years has been great. When I first came here I told all my friends I wanted to have my photo with those on Champions Drive."

Did she think about the number one issue in an indifferent stretch of golf during the first nine? "Not really I was just thinking about winning the tournament and perhaps it was just Sunday pressure. The pressure is there even if you don't think about it. I didn't really make any putts until the 12th and that was the turning point for me I feel."

When asked how becoming the world number one compared with winning a major Tseng was unsure and perhaps diplomatic. "Everything feels good winning majors and this. This is so unreal and I just so much appreciate those who have helped me over the years in getting to this point."

Stacy Lewis tried her heart out and had a great opportunity at the 8th to close the gap to just one but a missed six foot putt seemed to slow her momentum and although she fought back late in her round with birdies at the 15th and 17th, her chance had gone. Still, the 25 year old has had a good week and aheads to Thailand for the first event of the LPGA Tour season with her game in good shape.

Lewis contended for much of the week, trailing by one after the opening round and sharing the lead at the halfway mark. She was Tseng's nearest rival heading into the final day but could not match it with the new world number one over the closing stages.

Campbell has been a two time winner on the Japan Ladies Tour in her eight year career there and has made a lot of money during that time. This, however, is her best performance as a professional in Australia bearing in mind that she did win the 2002 Australian Amateur Championship.

So did she think she have a chance when she got within two. "I didn't really look at the board to be honest as I didn't think I had much of a chance at the start of the day," said Campbell soon after her round. "I wanted to shoot 8 under today and I am just happy to have done that. I was happy with today. I played well for most of the week and things just went well today.

While she has had a lot of success she is not particularly well known in Australia due mainly to the lack of coverage of the Japan Ladies Tour outside of that country. "It is nice to play well in front of an Australian crowd and for them to be so encouraging but it does not bother me too much that I am not recognised down here as that is not the reason the reason I play. I just want to play good golf and enjoy it."

Campbell's round of the day 64 left few in doubt as to the quality player she is.

American, Ryann O'Toole, finished alone in 4th position and she heads to her rookie season on the LPGA Tour with what appears to be a considerable future.

Fifth position was shared by the classy South African Lee-Anne Pace, Amanda Blumenherst, Queensland's Sarah Jane Smith and New Zealand amateur Cecilia Cho.

Defending champion Karrie Webb put together a solid round of 67 to finish in a share of 9th but her second round of 71 was the one that cost her any chance this week.

Those who were present today might well look back in a few years and recollect the day they witnessed the crowning of a new world number one.

Yani Tseng could well still be the leading player in women's golf even then.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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