KOHLER, Wis. — Top-ranked Yani Tseng fondly remembers attending the U.S. Women’s Open as a fan when she was 13, down to autographs and free snacks.
Should Tseng win at Blackwolf Run this week, she’ll get a taste of fame only a handful of players have sampled before.
With a victory in the U.S. Women’s Open, the 23-year-old native of Taiwan would become the youngest women’s player to complete a career Grand Slam. She’d even one-up Tiger Woods, who didn’t win all four majors on the men’s side until he was 24.
But after winning three times on the LPGA Tour earlier this year, Tseng is struggling going into today’s first round at the challenging 6,944-yard, par-72 course in central Wisconsin.
And Tseng acknowledges that completing the career slam is on her mind.
“Yes, of course,” Tseng said. “It’s hard to not think about, because everybody is talking about it. But like I say, I’m not worried about what’s my result this week, because (I’m) just going to have fun.”
Karrie Webb is the youngest women’s player to complete a career Grand Slam, winning the LPGA Championship in 2001 to complete the feat at age 26.
Tseng’s best U.S. Open finish was 10th at Oakmont in 2010. But her best memory at the tournament came as a 13-year-old fan, when she was part of a small group of young Taiwanese players who watched Juli Inkster win in 2002. She remembers getting players’ autographs.
“When you’re a junior, you can get (a) hot dog and soft drink and free ticket to come in here,” Tseng said. “It was so much fun.”
In a way, Tseng said her experience at the U.S. Open as a fan adds to the pressure she puts on herself as a player.
“So every year when I come to the U.S. Open I always feel more nerves and more pressure on this tournament,” Tseng said. “When I was 13 my dream was playing the U.S. Open. Now I’m trying to think (about) winning the U.S. Open. It’s a very big step for me to think this way.”
She got off to a roaring start this season, winning three of her first eight tournaments and finishing in the top 10 in all eight.
But in her three most recent tournaments, Tseng finished 12th, 59th, then missed the cut.