LPGA: Can World No. 1 Yani Tseng Lead Women's Golf as She Did Last Season?

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2012

PITTSFORD, NY - JUNE 26:  Yani Tseng of Taiwan poses with the winner's trophy after her ten-stroke victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club on June 26, 2011 in Pittsford, New York.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Last season Yani Tseng showed the world what she's capable of: She was the only golfer, male or female, to win 12 times, and has become the youngest player to win five major championships.

With a new season around the corner and a handful of talented players seeking to challenge her, the question is: Can Yani keep up the pace? To answer that, you have to take some things into consideration.

For starters, teen sensation Alexis Thompson, who at age 16 has already won a LPGA event (Navistar LPGA Classic) and another one of the Ladies European Tour (Dubai Ladies Desert).

Thompson may have a rookie status this season, but she's not a novice by any means; expect her to win twice and post several top-10 finishes this year, and become one of the most recognizable faces in women's golf.

Don't miss Michelle Wie, who's expected to graduate from Stanford on March, which will allow her to focus solely on the tour. No homework and mid-terms for the Hawaiian should translate in better results on the course; by the way, she has already won two LPGA titles.

Another name on the list is South Korea's Hee Kyung Seo. She was 2011 Rookie of the Year, finished runner-up at the U.S. Women's Open, and issued a warning to Tseng at the Rolex Awards Reception held in November.

“I’m ready to play golf at the highest level, and I want to be No. 1 in the future, so I issue this warning.” She added: “The sticker I think is meant for you says `Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.’”

As if that wasn't enough, Yani needs to focus on something else, her superstar status in women's golf as well as being an ambassador for the LPGA. To attend her numerous obligations, she decided to take English lessons. Now, she's speaks fluently and talks to media all over the world.

Somehow she has found time to work out and practice to keep up. Tseng's main goal is to focus on her game and get better; she told Bleacher Report last November that she thinks this is just the beginning of a bright career.

Yani is comfortable with her game and status. She wants to continue to lead women's golf, and that's already a victory.

The LPGA hasn't had a player that can be as consistent as Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam were. Furthermore, Yani is only 22 years-old and has a long way to go before thinking in other matters, such as having a family.

After Lorena Ochoa retired from competitive golf, no other player has spent so many consecutive weeks atop the Rolex Rankings, Tseng has been there for 48 and has a 7.28 point-lead over Suzann Pettersen (9.95).

She's the only Taiwanese player that has dominated a golf tour, and has been named Rookie of the Year (2008) and Player of the Year (2010-2011).

Women's golf will continue to grow, and that's precisely because of Yani. After all, she's the one that has set the bar higher than ever.