Can Anybody Beat Yani Tseng?

The PGA Tour is still behind the curve at the Shell Houston Open. They managed to get everybody playing today, but when darkness descended on the course, only half of the field had completed 36 holes. And some started so late Friday afternoon, they only got three holes in.

So they will start again at 7:30 AM (Central) in an attempt to get everyone through 36 holes. Then they’ll determine the cut, re-pair and try to get as many through the third round as possible. Reduced to low 70 and ties, there’s a good chance they’ll get it all in and only have to play 18 on Sunday.

The leaders in the clubhouse are England’s Brian Davis and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, both at 11-under par. Local veteran, Jeff Maggert is at 10-under, but he could well be leading at the end of the round because he still has eight holes to finish. Another advantage that he will have is that the course will have drained still more since Thursday’s torrential thunderstorms. Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Phil Mickelson and J.B. Holmes are among five players tied at 9-under. Mickelson is the defending champion.

So all of that delay allows us to spend more time with the LPGA Tour’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs), California.

And a very familiar figure is at the top of the leaderboard, Yani Tseng. She shot another 68 on Friday to get to 8-under and a one-stroke lead over Korea’s Haeji Kang. Aussie, Lindsey Wright, who bared her soul about her bouts with depression and anxiety in yesterday’s post, is at 6-under and tied with Korea’s Sun Young Woo.

Tied at 5-under are World No. 2, Na Yeon Choi, long hitting Swede, Karin Sjodin, and Tour veteran and Pied Piper to all the Korean players, Se Ri Pak. Na Yeon Choi has an additional thing on her mind as she tries to win and earn the traditional jump into Poppie’s Pond: she can’t swim and is deathly afraid of water from a childhood swimming accident.

But the question raises its head again this week: can anybody beat Yani Tseng?

Thursday’s 68 consisted of 6 birdies and 2 bogeys. Friday’s 68 consisted of 5 birdies but only 1 bogey. So one fewer birdie, but a world of difference in Yani’s mind:

I think today was much better than yesterday.  This morning I felt more energy coming out today, more than yesterday, and I just feel like today my focus was so much better than yesterday.  I’m hitting very consistently today.  I took advantage of every chance out there.  Everything else was very good today, and I was very happy that I finished 4‑under today.

And there might well have been good reason for all this “energy coming out:”

I was saying yesterday I just figured out I’m just kind of tired after the last two wins when you come into this week.  Because normally two or three weeks is perfect for me, but this week the first few days I felt a little tired.

But after yesterday I had a good sleep, and I relaxed a few days.  And I think I’m coming back with a fresh focus, and I’m really happy now.

And now that she’s feeling fresh, she’s able to do what all good players do: be patient:

I was really happy how much fresh I am in the last few days.  So I know my game’s there and I need to keep focused on it and be patient all week.

Somebody asked her how it felt to have been at the top of the leaderboard in nine of the last ten rounds she played?

I don’t think about it all that much.  I just kind of focus on every day.  I still have two more days to go, and this golf course suits me really well and is in very good condition.  I heard tomorrow’s going to be very windy in the afternoon, so I just need to be patient.

And she leaves us with this to ponder in our own games. Someone asserted that golf, particularly, is a game of confidence and wanted to know if she had ever been on a streak where she had felt more confidence…and wondered if golf seemed easy right now?

I don’t think it was easy.  I just kind of play my best out there.  But I think every tournament’s different.  Every – because this tournament I played like four times already, so I know the course better.  So I think that gave me a little more confidence so, maybe I can say it’s easier, but I don’t know.

I think every shot is a different challenge.  You just need to do your best.  You need to give a hundred percent effort for every shot.  Nothing is easy about it.  Even three‑foot putts are still hard.  You just need to focus on the things that you can do and not try to think too much.

Here’s something interesting: the top American is Vicky Hurst at T8. She was the “other” Captain’s pick by Rosie Jones in last year’s Solheim Cup. The pick everybody remembers is Ryann O’Toole who missed the cut by four. She tweeted that she was still deep in the process and would spend tomorrow following the leaders to see what she could learn.

Other notables include Christie Kerr at 3-under; Paula Creamer, 2-under; Angela Stanford, Ai Miyazato, Karrie Webb and Sandra Gal, 1-under; Lexi Thompson, even; Stacy Lewis, the defending champion, 1-over; Suzann Pettersen, 2-over; and Natalie Gulbis and Morgan Pressel, 3-over.

Michelle Wie, Sophie Gustafson, Brittany Lincicome, and Paige Mackenzie all missed the cut as well.

Saturday morning everybody’s attention will be on two things: figuring out how they’re going to catch Yani Tseng, and figuring out how they’re going to do that in Palm Springs’ notorious winds. They’re forecast for 10 to 20 miles per hour.

Yani Tseng already said that she’s just going to give it one hundred percent and be patient.

Uh, oh.

The Golf Channel has it from 1:30 to 5:30 PM (Pacific).

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