NPR’s report on LPGA phenom, Yani Tseng, caught my attention this morning. Reporter Tom Goldman was incredulous at the lack of attention Taiwan’s favorite daughter has been getting – especially considering that she is the number one player in the world, having won – at the tender age of 22! – five major championships. To put that into perspective, both Tiger Woods and the LPGA’s legendary Patty Berg were 25 by the time they hit that milestone. What makes Yani’s record even more impressive is the fact that most of the five were won during the past year!
In pursuit of a turn-around story, Goldman caught up with Tseng at the Safeway Classic being played in Portland, Oregon. There he watched her hit a bad shot off the seventh tee into the sand followed by tough shot into the thick rough. A year ago, Goldman says, Tseng would have approached the third shot with head hung low, shoulders slumped, and angry dejection written all over her face just waiting for the disappointment she was sure would follow. And which, most often, did.
But this year, she approached the third shot smiling, talking to the gallery, greeting a child she had met earlier. When it was her turn, she hit a beautiful shot out of the deep rough to within five feet of the hole. And proceeded to sink it for par. What a difference a year makes!!
So, Goldman asked, what made the difference? The answer, according to Gary Gilchrist, Tseng’s swing coach, is her attitude approaching the ball. Under his tutelage, she has learned to control her emotions when she hits a bad shot, accept the new lay as a manageable challenge, and move on.
Yani Tseng has developed a “play-full attitude” – and it has won her five championships in just over a year.
Wonder if I could live more effectively in the Kingdom with a “play-full attitude”? An atittude that didn’t bemoan every tough thing that happened, that didn’t approach life set for disappointment, that took life as it came and viewed it, by the grace of God, as a manageable challenge. And then moved on to whatever was next.
For most players, even the pros, golf seems to be about redeeming the shots that are less than perfect. There’s something to be learned about life in there somewhere. I think.