Who can stop Yani the Great?
What a difference a year makes in professional golf?
At the end of the 2010 season, no fewer than six players were in contention each week to secure the No.1 position in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
The top spot was juggled like a hot potato, fluctuating each week depending on the outcome of the latest tournament.
Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi and Yani Tseng, in particular, held or were in a position to grasp the top spot with no clear indication of who might break free from the pack.
The similarities with the men’s rankings situation at the same point were uncanny.
Then along came Yani, who has blown women’s golf apart in 2011.
The release of updated world rankings on October 31 illustrates the current situation perfectly, following Tseng’s 11th worldwide victory at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China and second in as many weeks in Asia.
Tseng’s total points in the rolling average is more than double that of second-placed Pettersen, with her points average a whopping 18.40 to Pettersen’s 10.93.
There can be no disputing who the best player in women’s golf is – now and for a long time to come it would seem.
When you look at the quality of her game, her ball striking ability, length and demeanour on course, it is no surprise she was the most likely to break from the pack and dominate the game as Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam did before her.
Tseng has some strong candidates to challenge her in the next few seasons.
Outside of the names already mentioned, Korea’s Amy Yang and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall are young up-and-comers who have made noticeable advancements in the rankings.
Michelle Wie has only just turned 22, but has not scratched the surface of what her talent could deliver. Right now however, Tseng is untouchable.
And as if an 11-victory season wasn’t evidence enough of her dominance and the all-round strength of her game, the LPGA Tour statistics don’t lie.
Tseng is either clearly at the top of most categories or in the top few.
You could argue she still has plenty of improvement in her game as her driving accuracy and sand-save statistics are average at best, but when you have the ability as she does to tear up a golf course and bounce back from setbacks (after her latest win, Tseng had made 66 more birdies in 2011 than the next best player!), perfection in every category is not only unrealistic but also not required.
Tseng’s win in China was her 30th in just a four-year professional career.
At 22 years of age and with five Majors already to her credit, the sky is the limit.
An appearance against the men is also a possibility in the new year with conjecture Tseng may be invited to play in the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour in March.
Rumour has it Tseng is interested in the idea, which would see her follow in the footsteps of her idol Annika Sorenstam, who appeared in the Colonial Invitational on the PGA Tour in 2003 when also the world No.1.
Don’t count against her accepting the invitation and although I hope she doesn’t make the same mistake Michelle Wie did by making a habit of it, surely making the cut against the men would be a realistic prospect for a player auditioning to be the finest of all time?