Tseng faces new challenge before Taiwan fans

Taipei: Yani Tseng has dealt with many different pressures as she made her way to the No. 1 ranking in women`s golf, yet faces a unique challenge this week: performing in an LPGA tournament in front of her home crowd.

Tseng will be the star attraction of the Sunrise LPGA Championship when her home country Taiwan hosts its first ever LPGA tournament.

"I`m nervous given that this is the first time in Taiwan," the soft-spoken Tseng said. "There`s a definite sense of pressure, but I`m hoping to convert that to motivation."

The tournament has attracted 27 of the top 30 money winners to Taiwan, which is hosting an event thanks largely to Tseng.

"The top story in advance of the championship is certainly Taiwan`s Yani Tseng," LPGA spokesman Mike Scanlan said. "We expect that Yani will receive a warm welcome from Taiwanese fans and media."

Her achievements on the links drove the LPGA to pick a venue in Taiwan, Scanlan said.

Tseng, 22, most recently won the LPGA Hana Bank Championship in South Korea earlier this month. She has 11 LPGA victories to her name and has been player of the year two years running.

Tseng, raised on golf since age 5, has spoken modestly about her wins despite what experts call a technically flawless swing. Having seemingly mastered the game, Tseng`s next challenge will be to translate that into marketability and value for sponsors.

"It`ll be interesting to see the public reception of their homegrown star," said Larry DeGaris, academic sports marketing program director at the University of Indianapolis in the United States.

"Sponsors seem to have largely taken a wait-and-see approach," DeGaris said. "It`s not surprising. In this economic environment, you`d like assurance of a track record before making an investment."

The Taiwan tournament`s total purse is $2 million, and the winner gets $300,000.

After South Korea, the LPGA`s "Asia Swing" moved onto Malaysia, where Tseng came in second place and from Taiwan will proceed to the Mizuno Classic in Japan in the first week of November.

It was initially set to start in Guangzhou, China, but the China Golf Association told the LPGA two weeks ahead of time that it had been cancelled.

As of May 2011 seven of the top 20 LPGA golfers were Asian and 19 of the top 50 were from South Korea, Japan or China.

Bureau Report

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