Yani Tseng Swinging Well Again
I’m not so sure about the theory that a butterfly flapping his wings in one part of the world will result in a typhoon on the other, but if I was, I could hypothesize that I had something to do with Michelle Wie’s resurgence a week or so ago, just because I sort of saw it coming. No, don’t send out the men in white coats. I know I wasn’t part of it.
However, since the game of “career resurgence” is fun from a distance, I scour the leaderboard every week, not necessarily to see who’s winning, but to see who’s playing well on a regular basis. Hang around up there long enough, and you’ll probably win something. Today, for example, I noticed that Yani Tseng was under par, which doesn’t mean that she’s going to win the Kingsmill or reestablish herself as number one. It means she’s playing under par, at least today – one step at a time.
Yani ruled the game of women’s golf for two years, and sat in the number one spot in the world for one hundred and nine weeks, losing it to Stacy Lewis. She has fifteen titles and five of them are majors. Two of them came in 2010, and in 2011, she won all over the place. In her early twenties, she’s almost eligible for the Hall of Fame – now who does that? Somebody who’s got game, that’s who.
In the same way I pondered over Michelle Wie, and what it was she needed to sort out before becoming the winner she was predicted to be. (at least for a week), I turned my thoughts to Yani again, with a different mindset.
My new belief is that she didn’t lose anything in her game. I also don’t believe she lost anything personally. Perhaps she got to the top, looked around, felt a different kind of pressure, and decided that she liked it better when she was chasing number one as a goal. Maybe she’s been working over the details of precisely how she feels about chasing the “winning thing” on this tour, and is now ready to “recommit and motivate,” as one writer put it.
Yani hasn’t exactly been secretive about it, nor has she demonstrated any personal melt-downs, acting-out episodes or dramatic “I want to be a fireman instead” moments. She’s just gone back to playing like someone who’s hungry to reach the top, but not hungry to be there. In her own words, “Number one is not what it’s made out to be…you don’t get to live your life.” That sounds pretty clear. Maintaining supremacy is a different kind of hard, it’s being on the defensive, living up to expectations to be the sensation week in and week out. Where Tiger might have relished such a role, maybe Tseng wants to be somewhere else. The last quote I got from her before an upcoming major was, “I’m totally fine…I don’t have to play like the World No. 1 anymore.”
All right then. Congratulations, you’ve discovered where you don’t to be, but you want to play well and win. How to put those two together. In the words of the old Firesign Theater, “How can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?”
The upshot of it is that, even though this is the first day, Yani might be ready to start doing her winning thing again, maybe not this week, and maybe not next, but soon. It’s possible she’s figured out the riddle of being a great golfer without having to play Queen of the Mountain.
Or, maybe I’m just nuts – Yeah, that’s probably it.