Date: February 07, 2012
Author: Greig Johnston, Sportal

Tseng eyes triple treat

World number one Yani Tseng will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories in Melbourne this week when she tees off at the ISPS Handa Women&aposs Australian Open. The 23-year-old from Taiwan has taken all before her over the past two years, and the five-time major winner will be gunning for her third successive Australian Open victory at Royal Melbourne, after enjoying success at the Commonwealth Golf Club in 2010 and 2011. Tseng enjoyed a remarkable 2011, winning seven LPGA events and 12 tournaments in total – including majors at the LPGA Championship and the women&aposs British Open – moving to the top of the world rankings in the process. But she will have no shortage of challengers for the winners&apos share of the $US1.1 million prize pool in Melbourne, with five other members of the world&aposs top 10 taking to the field. Norway&aposs Suzann Pettersen (number two) is chief among them, and there will be plenty of first-rate competition in the shape of American trio Cristie Kerr (number four), Brittany Lincicome (number nine) and Stacy Lewis (number 10) as well as South Korean Jiyai Shin (number seven). Karrie Webb will lead the Australian charge, with the 37-year-old Queenslander gunning for her fifth Australian Open title – her most recent coming in 2008 at Kingston Heath. And Webb will have plenty of other home grown talent vying for the trophy, with Frances Bondad, Nikki Campbell, Lindsey Wright, Katherine Hull, Sarah Kemp and Kristie Smith all lining up at Royal Melbourne. American sensation Lexi Thompson, 16, will be looking to follow on from her incredible success at the Navistar Classic last September, when she became the youngest player in history to win an LPGA Tour event. Thompson proved that triumph was no fluke when she took out the season-ending Dubai Ladies Masters, making her also the youngest player ever to win a Ladies European Tour title. Continuing the theme of youth, 14-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko will take to the field after becoming the youngest player of either sex to win a professional tournament with her victory in last month&aposs New South Wales Open. Swedes Caroline Hedwall, Anna Nordqvist and Sophie Gustafson, Spain&aposs Azahara Munoz, the Netherlands&apos Christel Boeljon and Germany&aposs Sandra Gal will spearhead the European assault. As well as the star American trio of Kerr, Lincicome and Lewis, the United States is well represented by Morgan Pressel, Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford. South Korea has become a powerhouse in women&aposs golf over the past few years, and as well as Shin the nation boasts numerous contenders for the title including Ryu So-Yeon, Park Hee-Young, Kim Ha-Neul and Seo Hee-kyung. This year&aposs tournament is the fifth in succession that has been played in Melbourne&aposs famed Sand belt region, with the 2008 edition staged at Kingston Heath, the Metropolitan hosting the 2009 tournament before Tseng&aposs back-to-back wins at the Commonwealth Golf Club.