Do you remember a young golfer from Asia (not South Korea) who is still the youngest male or female winner of 5 major golf championships by the tender age of twenty two?
Her name is Yani Tseng and she was the dominant LPGA player from 2008 to 2011, holding the number one spot in the Women's World Golf Ranking for 109 consecutive weeks.
She won LPGA Player of the Year in 2010 and 2011 and was 71 under par in the 5 Majors she has won to date.
Yani hits it long off the tee averaging a shade under 270 yards, and when you consider Greg Norman in his heyday averaged 276 yards you can understand the advantage Yani has over most of her competitors.
Combine her length off the tee and averaging just under 70% in G.I.R. you can understand why she was so dominant.
Winning more than US$1.2 million each year from 2008 to 2012, and her earnings in 2011 were over US$2.9 million.
Hailing from the Republic of China (Taiwan), during that period she was so popular that upon returning to Taiwan she had the same security arrangements as Lady Gaga did when visited and performed in Taiwan!
Well unfortunately her career has nosed dived since her last win, which was the Kia Classic in March 2012. Yani's world ranking last year was 83 and it does not look like it is going to change any time soon.
In the last 14 majors she has missed the cut in seven of them, and her best finish was tied 19th in the 2013 Women's PGA Championship.
So what has caused this massive drop in form? I can't find any official report of an injury or explanation so what are we to conclude?
The only thing available to us is to take a look at her statistics to possibly come up with a logical reason for the extraordinary drop in performance over the past couple of seasons.
Looking at the graph of her competitive scoring average and also total money earned below you will see her scoring average steadily goes up from 2009 and once over 70.12 the wins dry up and the earnings drop dramatically.
If Yani's numbers creep closer to 72.50 she will be in danger of losing her card. She will obviously get sponsor invitations into events however if that happens it will be a big hit to the ego and the loss of confidence could be catastrophic.
We have obtained these statistics from the LPGA website and looking at it her Total Birdies result of 208 in 2011 (which was her best year), it does not appear to correlate with the wins she had that year and nearly US$3 million she won.
If it is correct she could have directed her focus solely on the majors that year, including playing the tougher golf courses for that calender year. This statistic translates to 2.70 birdies for each of the 77 rounds she played in 2011, which is down from 3.95 the year before for the 64 rounds she played.
In 2013 and 2014 Yani's birdie average dropped to 3.34 and 3.33 respectively for the rounds played.
For followers of our articles here at Pro Tour Golf College since 2011 you will know that world class players on every major tour average close to 4 birdies (on average) for each competitive round they play. It is one of the critical factors required if you wish to become a world class professional golfer.
Yani's greens hit in regulation (G.I.R) from 2008 to 2012 averaged 69.22% which is outstanding.
But unlike on the PGA Tour where through ShotLink technology the proximity to hole (P.T.H) is measured giving us accurate feedback of the quality of a professional golfers ability to hit greens, we have to speculate that Yani's approach shot proximity to hole was a lot closer from 2008 to 2012, compared to 2013 and 2014.
Plus a drop in G.I.R. of 4% to 65.11 from 2013 to 2014 does not help her case either.
Another possible reason for her continued drop in performance and earnings could be her decision to change the equipment that took her to the number one position in the World Golf Ranking. After playing the Adams brand of golf clubs since 2009 she ended that relationship and signed with Callaway.
It does not seem to be a decision based on dollars, because in 2010 Yani was offered a five year US$25 million deal which included access to a private jet and luxury villa by a Chinese company which she rejected.
Yani rejected the offer as it would have required her to switch citizenship from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to China.
She continues to use the Titleist ProV1 as her preferred ball.
She is not the first golfer (and won't be the last) to change club manufacturer and also experience a career threatening loss of form.
The one statistic that has improved out of sight is in the sand save category. In 2013 it improved by over 20%, a massive change in percentage and ranking. But this improvement has not impacted her scoring average in a positive way in any shape or form.
There are unconfirmed reports from a Taiwan news channel that Yani in 2012 took to late night partying after gaining fame which they speculate has hurt her game.
In a recent interview she declared "I want to be number 1 again, but I feel now golf is not everything in my life. She talked about working on "the process".
What seems a little odd is that this is the very same golfer who smashed it off the tee, went and found the ball and gave it another hit. It was great to watch her play without fear, and that's why people flocked to watch her play.
Yani is a golfer who has played full time since she was 10 years old, so 'burnout' could also be a possible reason that has taken her from extraordinary performance on the golf course to average performance.
We are huge fans of Yani Tseng and really want to see her get back on top of her game.
As history has shown us so many times, a successful professional golfer has to respect their ability and never take it for granted.
The game at the top level is so competitive that tampering with your talent quite often leads to those unique abilities disappearing very quickly. And getting them back almost never happens.
The LPGA needs golfers like Yani who have a high entertainment value with the crowds, golfers like Yani stimulate interest and growth in the game because they play more like a child without the adult constraints that makes one often feel like golf is played by robots more than creative human beings.
We wish Yani all the best for 2015 and beyond.
David Milne and Lawrie Montague - Pro Tour Golf College
The Professional Golf Tour Training College
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