The second-highest ranked female golfer in the world, Yani Tseng of Taiwan, has added an extra incentive for the Singapore golfers playing in this week's local qualifier for the HSBC Women's Champions. Tseng, LPGA Rookie of the Year and winner of the 2008 McDonald's LPGA Championship - one of the women's Majors - has guaranteed to play as practice partner in the tournament proper for whoever wins the two-round event at Tanah Merah Country Club this week (5th & 6th Feb).
"I'm waiting for them. It's exciting. I'm looking forward to it. It's a promise - whoever qualifies I will practice with them: 100 per cent," declared Tseng. She will start her season in Australia this week at the ANZ Masters on Queensland's Gold Coast, but with half an eye on Lion City, where fourteen local golfers will be vying for one spot in the HSBC Champions in the first week of March.
"I don't know which one I'm cheering for because I have many, many friends in Singapore. I know everybody: Ji Jiali, Christabel, Stephanie, Amelia, Su-Ann… I think I know all of them, all from amateur golf. We played so many tournaments in Asia together. They're very nice. Last year at the Lexus Cup they all came to cheer for me, they'd even made Yani signs. I was so happy to see them again because I hadn't seen them for a long time, not since I turned pro," she added.
Tseng also talks fondly of a shirt made by some of the Singapore girls with "Yani 388" on the back – a reference to her LPGA-leading tally of birdies last year. She says she has noticed how the HSBC Women's Champions local qualifier has energized her friends.
"Jiali and I are good friends and I know a couple of the others are going to turn pro. I think this is a very good chance for them," she explained. "It's a good experience. It lets them know how good they really are and it lets them know how they need to work on their game."
Yani and Jiali are so close they spent some of the off-season working together in Los Angeles, but the 20-year-old Taiwanese star says she will have no favourite this week.
"I'm cheering for everybody. I don't care which one makes it, for sure I will play with them in the practice rounds," Tseng declared.
When asked if she had a message for the girls, Yani, pulled out a phrase she has been practising ever since she arrived in Queensland for this week's tournament at the Royal Pines near Brisbane. "I would say good on ya!" she announced in an Australian accent as authentic as prawns on a barbie, before dissolving into laughter.
Source: HSBC Golf
(China.org.cn Feburary 4, 2009)