Tseng Ya-ni, Taiwan's Queen of Golf
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
February 14, 2011
Who knew? She still has a baby face. Just last month, she celebrated her 22nd birthday. But yesterday she won the Australian Women's Masters Championship. Overnight, she became the queen of golf. Tseng Ya-ni became the number one ranked woman golfer in the world. It was too spectacular for words.
Yesterday, even before the final hole, the media swarmed around her. TV anchor persons talked about "Yani's outstanding performance." They expressed amazement at how much she had matured over the past two years. The audience spontaneously lined up on the green to applaud Tseng, and to pay tribute to this newest queen of golf. Tseng nodded to the crowd. She flashed her signature smile. She betrayed no special joy or pride. For Tseng, this day was long coming, and she took it calmly.
In recent years, athletes from Taiwan have shone in a number of sports. Wang Chien-ming and Kuo Hong-chi in baseball. Lu Yan-hsun and Chan Yung-chan have performed brilliantly in tennis, bringing glory to Taiwan. Tseng turned professional only four years ago, She has shone In international competitions since then. She has become a star who has caught the public eye. At age 22, she has been crowned the queen of tennis. That may strike some as incredible. But for Tseng Ya-ni, the title was hard won. Her biggest challenge now, is to hold on to the title.
She began training when she was only five. She was barely taller than the club. Yet she took on adults. Tseng is more experienced than other young golfers. When she was still in elementary school, she watched the U.S. Open for the first time. She boldly declared, "I want to compete in this game." As a result, her parents turned this 12 year old over to the airlines. They "air shipped" her to golfing venues the world over. Flight attendants even stuck "special attention" stickers on her. Tseng Ya-ni, with her unique style, has made a place for herself in the golfing world.
Tseng's success is no secret. It is her self awareness and indomitable will. During junior high, she became junior women's amateur champion. She had no competition. As a result, she found herself in a predicament -- lack of motivation. Her mother demanded that she make a choice between academics and sports. Many athletes on Taiwan have faced this same dilemma before. In the end, most chose to quit sports. But Tseng Ya-ni told her mother, "I have no intention of giving up on either." She decided then to discipline herself. Seven years later, this queen of golf, brimming with self confidence, emerged into the spotlight.
Tseng Ya-ni once revealed how she would secretly watch golf champions and learn from them. The champions she learned from included Australian champion Mark Webber and Swedish legend Annika Suolunsitan. She learned how to maintain her golf rhythm, how to overcome psychological pressure, and how to correct the weaknesses in her putting. She had ambition. But more importantly, she was willing to confront her own weaknesses, and to practice tirelessly. She even used her spare time to practice English. She wanted to be able to express herself more accurately and fluently. She the inevitable day was coming closer and closer. She knew she had to make advance preparations, Interestingly enough, when Tseng rose to the number 2 position last year, she suddenly experienced a sense of unreality. Her ranking showed that she had already surpassed her childhood idols.
At the tender age of 12, Tseng Ya-ni resolved to become "number one in the world." Yesterday she fulfilled her dream. This dream was achieved through a strength of will difficult for outsiders to imagine. But her dreams of glory came true. They are something everyone on Taiwan can share in. Last year, a company on Mainland China offered her a one billion dollar signing bonus, if only she would compete for the Mainland. But Tseng Ya-ni, who was born in Kueishan in Taoyuan County, was unmoved. Her halo shines increasingly bright. But she has chosen to use her fame for the common good. She became a spokesman for children with cancer. She chose to share her light and warmth with underprivileged children. This outspoken young girl is a ray of sunshine.
At age 22, Tseng Ya-ni has scaled the heights of the golfing world. She has achieved her "Impossible Mission." She has become a Taiwan golfing legend. But competition in sports never ends. She must now attempt to retain her title. Other young people look up to her. They are inspired by her. They follow in her footsteps. How should they go about doing so? The answer is in Tseng Ya-ni's confident smile.