SI Vault
 
Why Am I Smiling?
YANI TSENG
March 07, 2011
With three majors, the No. 1 ranking, four wins already in 2011 and a new friend named Annika, my life (at 22, no less) couldn't be better. Now, let's talk
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 07, 2011

Why Am I Smiling?

With three majors, the No. 1 ranking, four wins already in 2011 and a new friend named Annika, my life (at 22, no less) couldn't be better. Now, let's talk

View CoverRead All Articles
1 2 3

Annika chatted about putting the pieces together for success. She advised me to identify my strengths and weaknesses. Then I could work on my weaknesses and complete the puzzle. We discussed setting short-term goals, which were winning tournaments and improving my overall putting and driving-accuracy stats, along with long-term goals, such as winning Grand Slams and qualifying for the Hall of Fame. Annika also reminded me to focus on what I could control, such as staying in my own routine, and always being excited about the opportunity to compete. After Annika left that evening, I locked myself in the library and went through the notes I had taken. I was immersed in trying to understand and digest Annika's advice.

My playing style is different from Annika's—I'm more aggressive—but she has helped me a lot with the mental side of the game. I reached a turning point at last year's Women's British Open, where I overcame the pressure of going into the final round with the lead and won.

Annika sent me an e-mail the night before the final round, saying, "Great to see you on top of the leader board. That is were you belong. Keep up the good work, trust your ability and have fun!" I wrote these words in my yardage book. That Sunday at Royal Birkdale, I walked away with more than the trophy—I gained the confidence to truly believe I knew how to win and get to the next level mentally.

Annika is such a classy player and person, and I aspire to be like her not only inside the ropes but also outside them. I think giving back is important, so I'm looking forward to the Founders Cup (March 18--20, in Phoenix). The LPGA founders gave us a stage to show our talents and fulfill our dreams of playing golf professionally.

The Founders Cup will be another opportunity for me to connect with fans and share my story. I don't think most people know that I can speak English. Obviously, there are many Asians on the LPGA tour, and it's hard for fans to know who can speak English. I want American fans to know they can talk to me in English. I'm happy to have conversations and interact with them. I learned to speak English mostly by talking and listening to people when I turned pro and moved to the U.S. (I was 18 but had spent summers in America since I was 12.) I'm fearless, so I'm not afraid to talk with anyone, even if my English isn't perfect.

During the short off-season last December, I took a one-month English class, which was really fun. I learned a lot and improved my grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. I wish I could go back because I hope to perfect my English language skills, but I probably will have to wait until the end of the year.

I want to communicate better with fans, tell them how I played, about my plans for the season and convey how I'm feeling. I'd like to show them my personality. If you can't tell, I'm outgoing and bubbly, but I have a sensitive side too. I turned 22 in January, but I still want to be a good role model for younger people and junior golfers—just like Annika.

I'm living my dream and enjoying being No. 1—even though it still seems a little unreal—but I'm going to continue working hard because I want to finish the year atop the ranking. Now that I am No. 1 it's interesting to think back to the low points.

I can't wait to return to Orlando. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see Annika when I get back, so I can thank her personally.

Now on GOLF.com

Continue Story
1 2 3