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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Yani Tseng Is Smiling Again

Nobody is saying she's back -- after all, she had another runner-up finish back in February at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. But Yani's T2 in Alabama this past weekend seemed different.

She was smiling this time. All week.

Yani at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic

It made news on Thursday when playing partner and friend Stacy Lewis remarked to her that it was good to see the old Yani back. It wasn't just that Stacy said it, but that Yani was touched enough by it to comment on it in interviews.

And on Sunday afternoon, as she tried to run down eventual winner Kris Tamulis and saw the putt that could force a playoff lip out, she was still all smiles. "I feel like I'm finally getting very comfortable on the course and enjoying the golf again."

This is big news from a former World #1 whose fall from the top was a dramatic as Tiger's, although it wasn't publicized quite as much. Yani had reached five career majors faster than anyone in history, male or female  -- age 22 -- and had dominated the Rolex Rankings for 109 weeks. But she says she wasn't ready for the pressure of being #1 and she let it get to her. The game ceased to be fun... and soon the game simply vanished.

But then she started working with instructor Claude Harmon III and sport psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, and slowly things have started to change. There have been signs during the year -- like that runner-up in February -- but she's missed a lot of cuts too. It has to be frustrating for someone who once made golf look so easy.

On Sunday she was making it look pretty easy again. She blasted her driver around the course as if she didn't care where it went. She told GC that she wasn't afraid to hit her driver or hybrids or any club anymore, and that her short game and putting were still good. And despite coming up short, she was still smiling and talking about how good it felt to be in the mix again.

Yes, it looks like Yani Tseng has finally rediscovered how to have fun playing golf. And if past history is any indication, that could be very bad news for the players at the top of the Rolex Rankings. After all, Yani is still only 26 years old... and the PGA Tour has taught us exactly what 26-year-olds are capable of.

The photo came from an article about Yani's week at ESPN's ESPNW site.

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