Female Golfing Phenom Seeks Titles, Recognition World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan has been powering and smiling her way around golf courses — and making history. She has already done something that no one who has swung a golf club has done before: At the relatively tender age of 22, Tseng has won five major championships.
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Female Golfing Phenom Seeks Titles, Recognition

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Female Golfing Phenom Seeks Titles, Recognition

Female Golfing Phenom Seeks Titles, Recognition

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

It's day two of the Canadian Women's Open golf tournament. Among the top golfers competing in Quebec is the best player you've probably never heard of. She's number one ranked, Yani Tseng, from Taiwan. Tseng has been powering and smiling her way around golf courses. And as NPR's Tom Goldman reports, making history.

TOM GOLDMAN: She's won five major championships. And she's 22. Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his fifth major. Legendary Patty Berg was 25. Berg holds the LPGA record with 15 grand slam titles. Yani Tseng has won most of her majors just since last year. What, you ask, is going on with this stocky, chatty young phenom who still counts beating her dad at golf?

YANI TSENG: 2000's the year I beat my father.

GOLDMAN: She sank the putt for par and fist-bumped her caddie. It was a moment that would've made Gary Gilchrist proud. Gilchrist is Tseng's coach. They've worked a lot on her reactions to bad shots. How to accept them, move on, stay focused. From his home in Florida, Gilchrist says it's paid off.

(SOUNDBITE OF HITTING GOLF BALL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

GARY GILCHRIST: You know, when she missed a fairway, she'd make bogey. And then once she changed her attitude and her body language, she started making birdies.

GOLDMAN: Unidentified Man: (Mandarin language spoken)

(SOUNDBITE OF HITTING GOLF BALL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

GOLDMAN: Yani j'eye yo(ph), in mandarin, roughly, go Yani go. It's a constant cry from the galleries that follow Tseng and a reminder about her fan base. She's really big in Asia, especially her native Taiwan.

LPGA: five majors. But such is life as a non-American on the U.S.-based LPGA tour - a tour that has struggled in recent years, losing sponsors and its two best players - Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa - to retirement. But Yani Tseng is doing her part to connect with Americans with smiles and language.

TSENG: I talk too much. You know, I don't afraid to talk to people, so I just - we have conversation and I learn from some vocabulary, some grammar from you and that's how I learn the English.

GOLDMAN: Tseng says embracing English isn't part of any directive. Rather, she says learning the language helps her feel comfortable and more relaxed on the golf course. All part of educating Yani.

TSENG: I feel like I still have a long way to go. I'm 22 now and I need to work on lots of thing and just keep learning.

GOLDMAN: Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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