Golf: 'Self-talk' soothes Tseng's nerves

Golf: 'Self-talk' soothes Tseng's nerves

Don't be surprised if you catch former women's world No. 1 golfer Tseng Ya-ni muttering to herself out on Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course this week.

The 26-year-old Taiwanese hasn't lost her mind before the start of the HSBC Women's Champions today.

In fact, her "self talk" is keeping her from succumbing to pressure, which, she said, caused her spectacular fall from the pinnacle of the women's game in the last two years.

At the sidelines of a golf clinic with China's Jing Yan yesterday, Tseng explained: "Self-talk is really important - I try to do that on the course as much as I can.

"It is very easy to let bad things go to your mind, so I always try to talk about positive things to myself."

After spending 109 weeks as the world No. 1 from February 2011 to March 2013, and becoming the youngest golfer to win five Majors, Tseng tumbled down the rankings - from 39th in February last year to 90th last week.

BOUNCING BACK

She shot back up to 63rd in the latest rankings, after finishing tied-second in the Honda LPGA Thailand last week.

With a new coach, a new fitness trainer and a mind coach, Tseng feels that she is bouncing back into shape.

But regaining the No. 1 spot, which teen sensation Lydia Ko holds, is no longer a priority for Tseng.

"That's not my goal any more," Tseng said. "I've been there before - I know how it feels and realised that it's not easy.

"Now, I just want to win tournaments, play good golf and be the happiest person out there. The world ranking is just a bonus for me now."

Her stint as the world's top woman golfer had been a double-edged sword.

Although the experience had been "cool", she said: "I gave myself a lot of pressure. I didn't give myself any chance to make mistakes, even during practice.

"I tried to be perfect, and the harder I tried, the worse I got.

"Golf is a great sport, but it can take you to the heavens for one hole, and hell in the next.

"When you're playing well, everything is easy. But when you're not, everything just becomes much harder."

Her more-zen approach to the game has already reaped some results, like in Thailand last week, but she is wary of declaring herself back to the "old Ya-ni".

She said: "Now, I don't get stressed when I hit bad shots, because everybody is going to hit bad shots now and then.

"I am feeling pretty confident right now, although my results hadn't really matched up. I just want to take it one shot and one tournament at a time and keep building my confidence level.

"It is something that is so hard to build, but so easy to lose."


This article was first published on March 5, 2015.
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