World No. 1 Yani Tseng is earning more attention for an off-the-course comment about maybe, someday, teeing it up with the boys, than the youngest golfer ever to capture five major championships has for her other-worldly, on-course accomplishments.
After beating the bejaysus out of yet another field — this time at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China on October 30 (she won by seven strokes) — Tseng allowed as how she might, “if an opportunity presents itself,” enjoy playing in a PGA Tour tourney “to learn more from male golfers.” Her remarks took off at warp speed, with golf watchers debating the pros and cons of another LPGA Tour star taking on the men, the Puerto Rico Open chair saying he would welcome Tseng into next year’s event, and Team Tseng trying to put the brakes on the run-away train.
“We appreciate that Puerto Rico has responded so soon, but [Tseng] has more goals to accomplish, such as completing the Grand Slam and qualifying for the Hall of Fame,” Tseng’s advisor Ernie Huang told Golfweek on Monday. “To play on [the] PGA Tour now will be too much distraction for her.”
The golfer, herself, has yet to weigh in on whether Trump international Golf Club, site of next March’s Puerto Rico Open, would be a good match for her game. Her length (her average 268 yards off the tee put her first on the LPGA) may not be enough to tame the 7,500-yard layout, but what, really does Tseng have to lose by giving it a go with the guys? She’s already lowered expectations by saying the results would not matter.
“I’d just want to enjoy the feeling of playing with guys and learning from them to further improve my skills,” Tseng said in China.
It’s possible that Tseng, who has wielded her Adams SpeedLine driver like a scythe through women’s golf to the tune of a Tiger-esque 11 worldwide wins, including two majors, this year, could become the second woman in history (after Babe Zaharias) to make the cut in an official PGA Tour event. It’s more likely that — like Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie, or New England’s own Suzy Whaley — she would not make the cut, but that outcome hardly slowed down Sorenstam, Tseng’s friend and mentor. After her May 2003 PGA turn at Colonial Country Club — where she won a slew of new fans with her skill, poise, and dignity under pressure — Sorenstam went on to capture 29 (of 72) LPGA titles, including six of her 10 major championships.
No matter the upshot, the most dominant golfer in the game today will have earned some well-deserved recognition that has, incredibly, eluded her history-making season for the ages (see: Golf Magazine’s Player of the Year).
Tseng’s appearance on the PGA would also benefit the LPGA Tour, which can use any press it can get. For now, Tseng’s organization will play the part of interested spectator to the frenzy involving its star player.
“We don’t have a statement [about Tseng’s comments],” a tour spokesperson told us via e-mail Wednesday. “We’ll let the media discuss it for now.”
(Emily Kay is a regular contributor to New England Golf Monthly. Check her out on the The A Position, Waggle Room, Boston Golf Examiner, National Golf Examiner, and GottaGoGolf websites. You may also follow Kay on Twitter @golfexaminer.)WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?