GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - More than 10 days ago, the world's top female golfer played what she felt was the worst golf of her life.
Yani Tseng said she couldn't have played any worse than she did at the Sybase Match Play Championship in Gladstone, N.J. Nothing worked.
"I was very disappointed. I was crying," Tseng said on Thursday, a day before the ShopRite LPGA Classic kicks off. "I gave 100 percent effort and it didn't come out as good as I wanted it. Not even close."
Tseng, who has won consecutive Player of the Year awards, practiced every day since that tournament in hopes of bouncing back for the $1.5 million Classic on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. The first round starts today at 7:15 a.m. Tseng tees off at 8:55 a.m.
Despite finishing ninth in match play, Tseng doesn't remember a time when she played worse - at least not while she has been playing at this high of a level.
When she struck the ball, what she thought would happen and what actually did were two different things.
"It's been a long time since I felt that way," Tseng said. "Most times even if I didn't play well, my game was still there."
Her bad rounds came at a strange time. Tseng has played some of the best golf the last couple of years and is ranked No. 1 in the world.
She won three tournaments this year and finished in the top 10 eight times.
After Sybase, she immediately flew home to Florida to work with her coach and hasn't taken a day off. At the very least, she feels happy to get back to stroke play.
"(The top 10) made me a little bit happier," Tseng said. "I'm excited to have this tournament to see how good I can be this week."
Golf is fickle that way. Even the best in the world has off days, even weekends.
Tseng began on a professional tour in 2007 and quickly found success. In 2008, she was named Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year on the LPGA tour.
But not every golfer has had as many good years as her. They deal with the highs and lows as best as possible.
American Angela Stanford, who has an LPGA win this year, turned professional in 2000. She got her first LPGA win at the 2003 ShopRite LPGA Classic.
"This is my 12th year so for me. I expect the lows," said Stanford, who is ranked 15th in the world. "I know it's not always going to go the way I want it to, but I have to maintain a constant and have balance outside the course. If you believe what you are doing in practice, it's a lot easier to handle the ups and downs of the course."
Trust is important on the course and Tseng knows that was one of her undoings at match play.
She knows that is something she has to change to contend this weekend.
"I didn't trust myself enough," Tseng said. "I am getting it back a little bit."
During the week, Tseng worked on hitting shots from different distances because she had been hitting the ball a little longer.
She practiced hitting clubs every five yards from 30 to 150 yards out from the green to gauge her club distance.
Every week, players have to figure the best thing to work on because the days are limited between tournaments.
"I think you work on everything pretty evenly," Stanford said.
"But if something jumps out at you that isn't good, you spend a little extra time there."
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