Yani Tseng is hoping that having yet another caddie on the bag will help her play her way out of a slump that includes three missed cuts in her last six LPGA Tour events. With Patrick Turley by her side at this week’s Safeway Classic, Tseng will work with her third looper of the season and the second since she parted ways with long-time caddie, Jason Hamilton, prior to last month’s Evian Classic.
“I met [Turley] last week in Detroit...and tried him out,” Tseng told reporters on Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s start to the three-day tourney at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course in North Plains, Ore. “Went to dinner together and he seems really nice. Just a couple of days we work on some yardage, and I think he's really good. I know he will keep me relaxed and I think he's a pretty good caddie.”
A friend introduced Tseng to Turley, who took over from Basil van Rooyen, Tseng’s caddie for just two events -- the Evian Masters and last week’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic. After two consecutive missed cuts, it appeared that van Rooyen couldn’t make Tseng’s cut.
Meanwhile, Hamilton, who chalked up 16 wins with Tseng, will hand the clubs this week to fourth-ranked Na Yeon Choi. The two golfers are good friends but had not discussed the caddie switch. Still, with the recommendation of her regular bagman, Shane Joel (who left the tour for personal reasons), Choi was at ease with the transition.
“I know [Jason] very well,” said Choi. “I work with him starting yesterday but it didn’t feel weird. It was a comfortable feeling and everybody knows that he’s a good caddie and he has good experience.”
As for what, besides a new caddie, Tseng has to do to put the breaks on a skid that includes no top-10 finishes since May, the world No. 1 said she was working hard on “everything I can” and gleaning all she could from her recent disappointments.
“We always learn more from the losing than the winning,” Tseng said. “The last couple months I learned a lot and I told myself, if I win again, it's going to be my best trophy I've ever had. I will be very, very much more appreciating how much goes into it and I know a couple of years looking back on this time, I know I will probably say this is my best time.”
In addition to firming up her ball-striking, Tseng concede that her ups and downs have taken a toll on her emotionally.
“I think it's all about mental,” she said about losing her fast ball after a 2011 season in which she dominated the game. She even sought the counsel of Michelle Wie, who certainly knows what it’s like to play with the burden of other-worldly expectations on her shoulders.
“I played a lot of golf with Michelle this year. She still hits the ball very well. She still hits it far. Still making putts,” Tseng said. “I think overall, it's the mind. I ask her if she’s cried, like a few times this year, and she says, "Of course," me too.
“A few months, it's like I try too hard, but I always learn something from it,” Tseng added. “Golf is not easy.”
Tseng also said she looked forward with great anticipation to playing for Taiwan in the 2016 Olympics, when golf will return to the world event for the first time since 1904.
“I can't wait to play [in the Olympics],” she said after avidly following the recently completed London games. “I want to work hard. I want to play for my country, play for everybody, and I want to be there. I just feel like I have so many feelings and I want to play in the Olympics and feel how special if I can win that tournament.”
In the meantime, however, Tseng had her sights set on a more immediate goal.
“I feel like I'm back,” she said about her preparations for this week’s tourney, “and I don't want to give anybody a chance to beat me again.”