Ricoh Women's British Open Final Round Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

Yani Tseng of Taiwan poses with the trophy and bagpipers following her victory at the end of the final round of the 2011 Ricoh Women's British Open.

RICOH Women's British Open
Carnoustie Golf Links
Carnoustie, Scotland
July 31, 2011
Final-round notes and interviews

Yani Tseng -16, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Brittany Lang -12, Rolex Rankings No. 58
Catriona Matthew -9, Rolex Rankings No. 35

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng successfully defended her title at the RICOH Women's British Open, shooting a final-round 69 at the storied Carnoustie Golf Links to take a four-stroke victory over Brittany Lang. At 22 years, 6 months, 8 days, Tseng becomes the youngest golfer in history to win five career major titles. Tiger Woods had previously held that distinction, having won his fifth major at 24 years, 7 months.

Tseng entered Sunday's final round trailing LET rookie Caroline Masson of Germany by two strokes. After a bogey on the opening hole dropped her to three strokes back, Tseng made a birdie on No. 3 while Masson recorded her second straight bogey to put them tied atop the leadboard at 13-under-par. A birdie on the sixth gave Tseng the outright lead for the first time in the championship and from there, she managed to hang steady while Masson faltered on the back side. Tseng book ended back-to-back bogeys on No. 12 and 13 with birdies on 11 and 14. She headed to the 18th hole with a three-shot lead and capped off her impressive victory with a birdie on the famous closing hole at Carnoustie.

It's the first time that Tseng, who won the 2010 RICOH Women's British Open at Royal Birkdale, has been able to successfully defend a tournament title.

Prior to becoming the youngest golfer to five majors, Tseng already had the distinction of being the youngest player in LPGA history to win four majors -- capturing the 2008 LPGA Championship, 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship, the 2010 RICOH Women's British Open and the 2011 Wegmans LPGA Championship. All that's currently lacking from Tseng's impressive resume in major championships is a U.S. Women's Open victory.

Youngest golfers to win five majors:
Yani Tseng '11 Women's British Open 22 years, 6 months
Tiger Woods '00 PGA Championship 24 years, 7 months
Patty Berg '43 Women's Western Open 25 years, 4 months
Louise Suggs '49 U.S. Women's Open  26 years, 18 days
Jack Nicklaus '66 Masters 26 years, 2 months 
Karrie Webb '01 U.S. Women's Open  26 years, 6 months
Mickey Wright '61 LPGA Championship 26 years, 8 months
Bobby Jones '29 U.S. Open 27 years, 3 months

In a class of her own: Since joining the LPGA Tour in 2008, Tseng has developed into one of the Tour's most dominant players.

Tseng has posted four wins and five other top-10 finishes this season. Last year, she won two titles, both of which were majors – the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the RICOH Women's British Open. In 2009, she claimed her second LPGA victory at the Corning LPGA Classic and carded 14 top-10's. In 2008, as an LPGA rookie, Tseng became a Rolex First-Time winner at the LPGA Championship, posted 10 top-10's, and won the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award. Tseng turned professional in 2007 and competed on the Asian Golf Tour and CN Canadian Women's Tour. She qualified for the LPGA by finishing sixth at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.

Earning her place in the record books: By winning her fifth major title, Tseng joins an elite group of golfers who have reached that number of major championships in their careers.

Tseng is now the 15th player in LPGA history to win at least five majors, joining a list of players that includes Annika Sorenstam, Patty Berg, Mickey Wright and Karrie Webb. She also finds herself on a list with other famous golfers who have accomplished the feat such as Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen.

Tseng has won four of the last eight majors on the LPGA Tour and she also becomes only the second player in LPGA history to win multiple majors in consecutive years. Karrie Webb was the first to do it, following up wins at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the U.S. Women's Open in 2000 with victories at the 2001 LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open.

“It's unbelievable,” said Lang, who finished runner-up to Tseng at the RICOH Women's British Open. “I couldn't even imagine 22 years old, fifth major, and how many events has she won other than majors. She's so mentally strong and she's so aggressive and confident. She's just got it all. It's pretty cool to watch.”

The affable 22-year old from Taiwan, who is often seen wearing a mile-wide smile, wants her impact on the globe to be one beyond the number of trophies she wins. Tseng desperately wants to be the force that inspires a generation of young girls to take up the game of golf in her home country. Inspired as a youngster by Annika Sorenstam, Tseng looks to have the same impact that Annika, Lorena Ochoa and Se Ri Pak have had on youth and golf in their respective homelands.

Tseng, who resides in Orlando, Fla., has developed a strong friendship with Sorenstam. She even bought the former house of the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member in Lake Nona and now lives just down the street from Sorenstam. Tseng has long looked to Sorentstam as a mentor and has sought out her advice on handling the pressure of being the top-ranked female golfer in the world. After Tseng's win on Sunday, Sorenstam posted a message on Twitter that said, “Yani displays another amazing performance. Congrats !!”

Pretty in pink: This year Tseng has adopted one tradition that many other golfers have used throughout their careers, picking a Sunday color to wear when she's in the hunt for a tournament title. Tseng's choice? A magenta shade of pink. As she's done for most of this year, Tseng wore a pink polo shirt for the final round and said it's her lucky color.

“I did ask my friend if people were wearing pink in Taiwan to cheer for me because they couldn't come here to watch,” said Tseng, who was showered with champagne after her win by her manager, her mother and her caddy's fiancé. “So when they wear pink to cheer for me, I feel like lots of people are supporting me.

Developing a love for links golf: Tseng appears to enjoy playing links golf based on her record of success at the RICOH Women's British Open. In four career appearances at the Women's British Open, Tseng has two wins (2010 and 2011) and one runner-up finish (2008 at Sunningdale). Her worst finish came was a T20 in 2009 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Thinking of Van de Velde? Perhaps one of the most famous images in the history of storied Carnoustie Golf Links is Jean Van de Velde standing in Barry Burn on the 18th hole in the midst of losing the 1999 Open Championship. Van de Velde had headed to the18th hole with a three-stroke lead, only to eventually lose in a playoff following his closing triple-bogey. And after her win on Sunday, Tseng acknowledged that she was thinking of Van de Velde when she walked to 18.

“I had a three‑shot lead so I thought I'd better hit a good drive here to win the tournament,” Tseng said. “I thought, okay, let's hit a good drive, finish here, and I hit a good drive and the second shot I hit 9‑iron, and I feel like a little juiced up, so full shot 9‑iron. I hit it like 135 I think, so that was a great shot.

“When you come on this golf course you're going think about him,” she added. “I did think about it a little bit.”

Final round surge: Brittany Lang started Sunday's final round in a tie for sixth and thanks to her round of 67, which included a 4-under 32 on the back nine, vaulted herself into a runner-up finish behind Tseng.

For Lang, it was her sixth career runner-up finish and her first since 2009. She entered the RICOH Women's British having not finished better than a tie for 50th in her last three events. But she managed to handle the challenges of links golf at the storied Carnoustie Golf Links, which was hosting the Women's British Open for the first time. She was particularly proud of the way that she played during Sunday's final round.

“I played great today,” Lang said. “I'm very happy with how I played. I made some really big par putts early on. Those first few holes played tough, and I made some really good par putts. And then from then on I just played fairly flawless golf. I stayed in each shot, and I was pretty happy with how I handled it mentally.”

Super Sunday: On the final day of the RICOH Women's British Open, the focus was not solely on crowning a champion as the players also helped aide the relief efforts for the earthquake and the tsunami that struck Japan back in March.

It was an initiative that they called “Super Sunday.” For every birdie or better achieved by the entire field on Sunday, the Championship Committee of the tournament made a donation to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. A total of 231 birdies were made during the final round and 30,000 pounds will be donated to the relief effort.

Solheim Cup push? American Katie Futcher put up an impressive number early in the final round, shooting an 8-under 64 to finish in a tie for 14th at 5-under par. Her round of 64 included shooting a 7-under score of 29 on the back nine, which is the lowest 9-hole score in relation to par on the LPGA Tour this season.

Futcher's finish also helped move her up the list in the U.S. Solheim Cup points race. With double points on the line at the RICOH Women's British Open, Futcher earned 24 points for her finish and she now sits in 11th place at 133 points. She currently trails Christina Kim, who is in 10th place, by 17 points. The top-10 players on the points list automatically qualify for the U.S. Solheim Cup team.

Golden ticket winners: Dewi Claire Schreefel, Candie Kung, and Karen Stupples punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the RICOH Women's British Open, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf.

And the Smyth Salver goes to…Danielle Kang, the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur champion. Kang took home the honor of low amateur at the 2011 RICOH Women's British Open, finishing in a T51 at 2-over-par. Kang was one of two amateurs to make the cut. Amateur Sophia Popov finished in 67th place at 11-over-par.

 

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we have our new champion Yani Tseng in the interview area after a 69 for a finishing total of 217, 16‑under par. Congratulations. How did you feel out there today?
YANI TSENG: It feels really good. I played really consistently today, and I just had fun. But I was a little nervous before I teed off. My stomach was hurting, and I feel really nervous. But after the first tee I felt really good. I just needed to be patient today. 18 holes is long, so I just trust and play one shot at a time today.

I feel like on No. 15, I had a 10‑footer to save par which was really huge for me because I've been struggling with my putting this morning, in the morning round, but after that there was more confidence with my putting. I felt like Brittany Lang and Catriona Matthew is pretty close to me, a couple shots different. But it feels really good to win this tournament again.

Q. Did you feel more nervous this time than last year or did last year's win help?
YANI TSENG: Last year helped a lot. I learned from my mistakes, and after a year I feel like my mental is getting mature and I can hold under pressure better than last year, and I'm learning lots from my mistakes. I think I've done really well to be patient and to control the whole round today.

Q. Did you feel more nervous this morning than you had in previous majors where you were in the final group on Sunday? Was there a reason for that?
YANI TSENG: Normally if I come from behind, I don't even feel nervous. I just go there, have no pressure. But today I feel like I was ‑‑ I mean, when I practice I feel okay, but when I get to putting green, when the tee time is getting closer and close, my stomach is getting worse. I just feel like this is the real deal, I feel nervous. But I told my caddie and told my coach today, I feel nervous, and they told me, that's okay, the other players are going to feel as nervous as you are. So that just made me feel a little relaxed.

Q. You've won five majors at age 22½. How many more are in there?
YANI TSENG: I wish to win more, but I am really happy. I think in my mind I say, wow, five times major, I never think about that. It just feels really ‑‑ I feel like this is just very special, and I'm very happy and very appreciative that I worked hard and finally all the hard work has paid off.

Q. You said yesterday that you were using your body language to stay positive and looking around yourself. When you had the back‑to‑back bogeys, did that policy help you?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I looked at my yardage book, a put a little note in my yardage put that said good posture, good preparation, smile, and so I looked at yardage book and just kept telling myself, okay, sometimes on links golf course you're just going to get bad luck easy, and just forget about that, always look forward, good posture, chin up, and then smile, and it helps a lot.

Q. Did the fact that there was a par‑5 coming up next help?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, that's for sure, because I know this is a very good chance, even I can make eagle here, so that helped a lot, too.

Q. That lovely shot you played into 18, what did you use?
YANI TSENG: I hit a 9‑iron, and I was thinking about Jean Van de Velde. I had a three‑shot lead so I'd better hit a good drive here to win the tournament. I thought, okay, let's hit a good drive, finish here, and I hit a good drive and the second shot I hit 9‑iron, and I feel like a little juiced up, so full shot 9‑iron. I hit it like 135 I think, so that was a great shot.

Q. Given that you were thinking about Jean Van de Velde, did you ever think about not hitting a driver off that tee?
YANI TSENG: I know, when you come on this golf course you're going think about him. But I did think about it a little bit.

Q. Who was it that showered you with champagne at the end?
YANI TSENG: My manager and my mom and Katie, my caddie's girlfriend.

Q. Just your reaction to being the youngest player to win five majors, the history, historic element of that.
YANI TSENG: I know, it's wonderful. I mean, especially winning on this golf course, Carnoustie, in the home of golf. There's just so many great players making history on this golf course. It's my honour to be part of this and just feel very special to win on a links golf course and the British Open. It's not like you're playing lousy and you can win a tournament; you have to play good, and there's so many challenges for this whole week. And I just was really patient, and I feel like I did it. I really did a good job, and just very proud of myself.

Q. Can we go through your birdies and bogeys. You dropped a shot at the 1st?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I hit a 6‑iron for my second shot, left myself a 30‑footer and made a three‑putt. I missed a three‑footer. No. 3, I had a birdie. I hit a pitching wedge for the second shot and pitched to one foot and made birdie. No. 6, par‑5, I hit a rescue but I didn't get on the green, and I chipped 52 near the left green and hit it to like five feet and made birdie there.

No. 11, I almost drove on the green again, and I just putted and tapped in for birdie. No. 12, I hit an 8‑iron for second shot and flew over the back of the green and chipped up, went through, then didn't make par.

Q. You were very unlucky on 13.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, that was really ‑‑ I feel really bad at that one because I hit a 9‑iron and hit the pin, and it got a big bounce to the left side like close to the bunker and didn't make up‑and‑down from there. 18‑footer for par, but I didn't make it.

And No. 14, I hit a 4‑iron for second shot and left myself 20‑footer for eagle and didn't make that, so tap‑in for birdie. No. 17, that was a huge putt. I hit rescue, 19‑degree for my second shot, left it short like 25 yards to the pin, and I putted, left it short, had like a 20‑footer, hit it too hard and I made that. That was a huge one.

No. 18, I hit a 9‑iron and pitched to three feet and made birdie there.

Q. What do you plan to do to celebrate tonight?
YANI TSENG: I don't know, my flight leaves at 6:20 from Edinburgh tomorrow. Probably just no sleep and have a little party with my friend here and just enjoy tonight.

Q. Now that you've had a chance to play four rounds, can you just kind of comment on the course setup and the conditions for the entire week?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I feel like this course can set up even longer. They can put the tees back because they always can move forward, depends on the weather. But it was set up a little shorter than we expected. But I played good, so I'm not going to complain. I've enjoyed this week, and the conditions were very good. It's not very ‑‑ not much divots on the fairways, so it was really good. Greens were very smooth.

There's lots of history on this golf course, and I came here and it was like, oh, I just want to enjoy this week, not even think about winning. Just very happy to win the tournament here. Hopefully next time we come back here they can set it up more tough and more challenge, too.

Q. You've now won four of the last eight majors. Next year will you be setting any goals?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, always U.S. Open is one of the tournaments ‑‑ one of the majors I haven't won, so that will be my goal next year. I just want to keep improving myself. It doesn't matter skill or mental or feeling, everything I want to keep improve. I want to become a better and better player every year. There's a long way to go, and maybe next year my goal will be the same thing as this year, to think about what part I have to improve upon and have to work on more, so that will be my goal next year.

Q. No one has ever won this championship three times. Will that be a goal, three times in a row?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, that might be another goal, too, but I wasn't thinking that. It's a little too far now. Just maybe keep doing the things I'm doing right now, and I hope they will get better.

Q. Is pink your colour, and is everybody wearing it in Taiwan and supporting you?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think so. I did ask my friend if people were wearing pink in Taiwan to cheer for me because they couldn't come here to watch. So when they wear pink to cheer for me, I feel like lots of people are supporting me.

So I wear pink today, but I was thinking, like I want to ‑‑ because I always wear white shorts, but when I'm at the Kraft, I wore the black shorts. But I was like, no, I've got to wear the white. I couldn't wear black. I was thinking about that last night. So I wear white shorts and pink top. It's my lucky colour for winning the tournament.

Q. Pink is your lucky colour?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, starting this year. I've been wearing lots of pink to win tournaments this year.

 

BRITTANY LANG, Rolex Rankings No. 58

Q. Can you talk about your charge today?
BRITTANY LANG: My charge? Yeah, I played great today. I'm very happy with how I played. I made some really big par putts early on. Those first few holes played tough, and I made some really good par putts. And then from then on I just played fairly flawless golf. I played great, stayed in each shot, and I was pretty happy with how I handled it mentally.

Q. Were you leaderboard watching?
BRITTANY LANG: A little bit, yeah. I just wanted to know ‑‑ I knew I was so far out of it that I had to shoot a pretty low round, so I just kept keeping an eye on it. When I missed that eagle on I think it's hole 14, I was bummed out because I knew that could have really gotten me to the top. But I was keeping an eye on it.

Q. Was it windy out there?
BRITTANY LANG: You know, it was really windy at the start and then it died down, it really did. It got a little colder and it died down. The back nine did not play overly tough I don't think.

Q. How did you think the course setup in general was for the week?
BRITTANY LANG: I thought it was good. I think we just got lucky that there wasn't a lot of wind because the course played really easy without that wind.

Q. So Yani is on her way to a fifth major at 22. Can you kind of put into words how good that is knowing how difficult it is to win?
BRITTANY LANG: It's unbelievable. I couldn't even imagine 22 years old, fifth major, and how many events has she won other than majors. She's so mentally strong and she's so aggressive and confident. She's just got it all. It's pretty cool, cool to watch.

Q. Is her name atop the leaderboard intimidating? What does it mean when you see her name on top of the leaderboard?
BRITTANY LANG: Well, it usually means that not much is going to go wrong, that you're going to need to make some birdies to catch her because she's pretty steady. She's going to make pars and birdies and eagles. She's not normally going to falter. That's what I think when I see it.

Q. Can you quickly go through your birdies?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I made a long putt on hole 7 for birdie off the green, a long one. And then I ‑‑ you want bogeys, too?

Q. Yeah.
BRITTANY LANG: I had one bogey today on hole 8, I hit it over the green and three‑putted from way long. And then I birdied ‑‑ hit like a little 50‑yard shot on 9, and I made like a ten‑footer for birdie on 9. And then I drove the green pretty much on 11 and two‑putted from the front of the green for birdie there. And then the next one I hit a 5‑iron to like four feet and birdied on 12. And then I birdied the par‑5. I hit driver, 3‑iron and two‑putted for a birdie.

Q. Was that 14?
BRITTANY LANG: Yes. And then I birdied 17. I hit driver, 4‑iron and made like a 12‑footer for birdie there.

 

CATRIONA MATTHEW, Rolex Rankings No. 35

Q. Give us your thoughts on your round.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I mean, nothing from probably 12 on. I struggled a little bit, didn't hit that many good shots. Chipped and putted well but didn't give myself enough birdie chances coming in.

Q. Were you aware of the leaderboard situation?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I knew where I was standing.

Q. And what about 18?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, it was just a tempting eye there. Tried to hit a little 5‑iron and the ball was just a little bit above my feet. In hindsight I should have chipped out but decided to go for it.

Q. Talk about how you're feeling after your final round here.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, obviously a bit disappointed. I played well going out but struggled a little bit coming in, didn't give myself enough chances.

Q. How did you find the conditions of the course today compared to the rest of the week?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, there was just a little bit more breeze today, which made it a little bit more challenging.

Q. And overall how did you find the course? Did you think it was worthy of having a British Open?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Oh, definitely, it's one of the best courses that there is. Yeah, everyone has enjoyed their week here, and look forward to coming back again.

Q. Obviously 18 was a case of just ‑‑
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, I thought it looked like a decent lie. The ball was just a little bit above my feet. I tried to hit a little 5‑iron in there and just pulled it. Obviously looking back I should have laid up, but I didn't.

Q. Not quite the round you wanted today, but other than that ‑‑
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, I just had no chance. If I had just hit a couple of better shots just kind of around about 12 to 14, I was kind of right in there to maybe put a bit of pressure on her.

Q. How good is five majors at age 22?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, that's amazing. I've played with her a bit this year, and she's a great player, hits the ball strong and straight, and if she putts well she's hard to beat.

Q. Talk about the crowd support today.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, it was great seeing so many people out there and cheering me on. Instead of cheering my birdies they kept cheering my par saves.

Q. That was a good one at 10.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I holed a nice putt there actually.

Q. General reflections on the week?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I'd say at the moment disappointed with the way I finished, but I think overall not too bad a week.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Ricoh Women's British Open

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