Yani Tseng shot a closing 68 to win the ANZ RACV Ladies Masters at RACV Royal Pines Resort and claimed the world No. 1 ranking from Korean Jiyai Shin.
Tseng, 22, who has played the Ladies Masters on Queensland’s Gold Coast since she was a 16-year-old amateur, produced rounds of 67, 66, 63 and 68 against par of 72 to finish at 24 under par, four shots clear of Australia’s Nikki Campbell and American Stacy Lewis.
Another American, Ryann O’Toole, took third place at 18 under while 16-year-old New Zealand Amateur Cecilia Cho tied for fifth with Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa, Amanda Blumenhurst of the US and Aussie Sarah-Jane Smith.
Tseng’s win comes on the heels of her victory at the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open at Commonwealth GC in Melbourne last week, a double achieved only by Karrie Webb in 2007. Webb was looking to win the title for the eighth time this year but after sharing the lead with an opening 66, shot subsequent rounds of 71, 68 and 67 to drop back to a share of ninth place.
Tseng’s elevation to the top spot in the rankings is almost routine for to the Ladies Masters. Others to use the tournament as a springboard to No. 1 are Se Ri Pak of Korea, Webb, Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa.
The winner of three majors – the 2009 LPGA Championship and the Kraft Nabisco and British Open in 2010 – said her goal at the start of the year was to be ranked the best player in the world. She advanced from No. 5 to No. 2 with the Australian Open win and completed the journey at Royal Pines.
The trick now, she says, is staying there. Since Ochoa retired on top in May last year, Shin, Ai Miyazato of Japan and American Cristie Kerr have assumed and lost the mantle. “It is so soon,” said Tseng. “I wasn’t expecting it as quickly as this. I still have another 10 months to go. I just need to be very patient and keep working hard.”
She described the win as a dream come true. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to play in this tournament since I was an amateur,” she said. “I have learnt a lot here, coming to play with the best golfers in the world. The first time I came here I told all my friends that one day I want my picture on Champion Drive with all the other winners.”
The circuit now moves to Christchurch for the Pegasus Women’s New Zealand Open, the third event in as many weeks co-sanctioned by Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the Ladies European Tour.