I seem to have been writing lots about golf recently, but there is more big news this week, this time on the women’s side. Taiwan’s Yani Tseng has just re-signed with IMG, in what could be a huge step to getting her career back on track. She’s only 24, but has fallen a long way from the highs of 2011 when she won 12 times, including racking up a fifth major championship.
Her fall was not quite of Tiger Woods proportions, but she’s now down to fifth in the world, after logging 109 straight weeks at the top of the rankings, and hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in March: a missed 9.10am tee time was blamed on late-night partying by the Taiwanese press – a rumor that was fiercely denied by Tseng. There was even a call by Taiwanese Golf Association President Hsu Tien-ya for Tseng to replace her management team.
But that’s not what is happening: the Golf Channel is reporting that Tseng’s long-time adviser, Ernie Huang, and her manager, Naya Hsu, will both remain part of the team. It’s also interesting that the IMG press release makes no mention of the fact that Tseng was initially an IMG client when she first turned pro, before trying things her own way. This reunion, though, seems a tacit admission that her decision to go solo did not work out and it’s not hard to read between the lines here:
“Working with IMG will allow me to focus on golf knowing that the important management and marketing decisions are taken care of.”
Another recent IMG signing, China’s Feng Shanshan, blew a good chance for victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic on the weekend, a 54-hole event in New Jersey. The world number 8 was three shots clear going into the final round but almost immediately gave up her lead on Sunday, with double bogeys at the 2nd and 5th holes. She briefly took the lead again after a birdie at the 8th, but finished in second place, two shots behind Australian Karrie Webb.
Feng, who debuted a new set of clubs last week, will look to defend her maiden major title this week at the LPGA Championship, the year’s second major. Feng will play in a marquee pairing with Tseng (winner in 2011) and American Christie Kerr (winner in 2010). It’s an exciting time for women’s Chinese golf, with Feng and Tseng both speaking at the launch of China’s newest LPGA tournament, the Reignwood LPGA Classic, scheduled for Beijing in October.