Yani Tseng upset about partying rumors following Kia Classic snafu

Andrew Redington

Yani Tseng responded Friday via Facebook to a rumor out of Taiwan that the former No. 1 golfer missed her tee time in the March 20 LPGA Kia Classic pro-am because she was out late partying the night before.

The story, which Taiwan’s Central News Agency said stemmed from a local weekly’s report, also claimed that Hsu Tien-ya, president of the Golf Association of the Republic of China, called for Tseng to fire her management contingent for “incompetence.” The speculation arose after the LPGA, per tour regulations, forced Tseng to withdraw from the actual event following her failure to make it to the pro-am.

“Very disappointing very sad!” Tseng wrote on her Facebook page, according to a Bing translation.

“I worked very hard every day for practice, wanted to make myself better!” the awkward translation continued. “I believe in my team, I believe that the people who love me, who support me, why would someone behind their backs have been saying that I'm no good!”

Hsu, according to CNA, said her advisors allowed the golfer to participate in too many off-course activities and that Tseng should decline invitations to night clubs from “friends in the entertainment world” and replace manager Naya Hsu.

Swing coach Gary Gilchrist, with Tseng in Rancho Mirage, Calif., as she prepares for this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the 2013 season, scoffed at the notion of his student as a carouser.

“That’s not her personality,” Gilchrist told SBNation on Saturday. “For me, Yani partying is going out to dinner with a bunch of friends.”

After an other-worldly 2011 season, in which she posted 12 worldwide wins and became the youngest golfer ever to win five major championships, and a hot start to 2012, Tseng has struggled to regain her lofty status. She’ll enter the Kraft Nabisco on the heels of the WD, the loss of her top ranking to Stacy Lewis last month at the LPGA Founders Cup, and knowing that she has not posted a victory since the 2012 Kia Classic.

Following her failure to make it to the pro-am, Tseng apologized officially and on Twitter.

“I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t feeling well last night and accidentally overslept and missed my tee time for the pro-am this morning,” Tseng said in a March 20 statement. “I was extremely excited to compete this week to defend my title at the Kia Classic and to try to regain the No. 1 spot. This was an unfortunate mistake and I want to apologize to Kia, my sponsors and all of the fans."

Gilchrist confirmed that Tseng’s cell phone battery had conked out, which is why the alarm on her mobile device did not sound and her manager, Ernie Huang, could not contact her.

“Ernie was there and then they went too late to the house to wake her up,” Gilchrist said. “They had to break in and she was fast asleep.”

Tseng, who reigned supreme atop the Rolex Rankings for 109 straight weeks, has talked often about the internal and external pressures on her to continue playing at the blistering pace of two years ago. Hsu reportedly told Taiwan’s Next Magazine that the 24-year-old from Taiwan should fire her entourage, including manager Naya Hsu, charging her inner circle with over-booking the golfer and blaming them for her lackluster play.

Gilchrist was baffled about such claims, noting that Tseng’s manager, Hsu, had recently undergone a surgical procedure but had recovered and was back by the golfer’s side in California.

“For some reason, they’re [Taiwan media] just negative towards her,” said Gilchrist. “To have somebody of [Tseng’s] caliber do what she’s done over the years, you’d think they’d be more supportive than this....I mean, there’s no chance. She takes her tournament weeks very seriously.”

The key for Tseng, heading into this week's major contest, he said, was to put the circumstances of her missed tee time behind her and look forward.

“She’s very disappointed because of the situation because she takes the responsibility of being one of the best players in the world seriously and she was the defending champion," said Gilchrist.

“It’s about getting over it and now refocusing on the next week,” Gilchrist stated. “Great players and people who get to the highest level, that’s one of their strengths -- how to get over adversity. That’s what makes them great.”

Gilchrist, by the way, deserves credit for helping D.A. Points win his second PGA Tour event, last week’s Shell Houston Open. Points recently began working with the swing coach to improve his motion.

“D.A. and I have been working on simple ways to help improve his consistency mainly in his setup,” Gilchrist said in a statement over the weekend. “By getting his right hip lower with a little more spine tilt, he’s been able to make a more natural turn. This allows him to stay more on top of the ball and clear his hips correctly through impact.”

Looks like it worked.

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