Nelly Korda will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Yani Tseng when the AIG Women’s Open is staged at Carnoustie for only the second time.
Korda comes into this year’s Championship as the top-ranked player in the world, with three victories in her last four starts including a maiden major title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and a golden triumph at the Tokyo Olympics last weekend.
On the only previous occasion Carnoustie hosted the AIG Women’s Open, it was Tseng who began the week as the undoubted player to beat, due to her status as the reigning Champion, World Number One and a winner of six titles in the 2011 season.
As if that record was not impressive enough, Tseng went on to defend her AIG Women’s Open crown in convincing fashion, with a performance that ranks among the best in the Championship’s history.
We take a look at how Tseng triumphed in Angus a decade ago.
A steady start as Lee sets the pace
If Tseng was the clear headline act in the lead-up to the 2011 Championship, it is fair to say other players stole the limelight in Thursday’s opening round.
As Tseng started with a one-under 71 to share 31st position, 14 players managed scores of 69 or better on a course offering plenty of birdie opportunities.
The field was headed by South Korea’s Meena Lee, who put together a seven-under 65 to lead Brittany Lincicome by two.
Yet it was not long before the leaders came under pressure from Tseng, who had talked up the value of remaining calm on the eve of the Championship.
“I’m just going to try to be positive and smile and be patient,” said Tseng. “That’s all I can control. You can’t control the wind or the bounces you get. You just have to go out and play the golf course.”
The Champion makes her move
Day two saw a significant move from the reigning Champion, who improved on her opening-day score by five with a six-under 66.
Tseng climbed up to seventh position as a result, yet she was still four adrift of Caroline Masson, whose stunning 65 in the last group of the day lifted her to 11 under.
Masson and Tseng were not the only players to make hay in the sunshine on Friday. Inbee Park joined Lee in second on 10 under with an outstanding 64, a score matched by fellow South Korean star Se Ri Pak, who was one of three players at -8 through 36 holes.
The two amateurs who made the cut – Danielle Kang and Sophia Popov - would each go on to become major champions, the latter achieving the feat in such memorable fashion at Royal Troon 12 months ago.
Masson and Tseng pull clear
By the end of day three, two players had separated themselves from the field as the battle for glory threatened to develop into a two-horse race.
Masson had yet to win a professional event at this early stage in her career, but the German looked to be handling the pressure superbly as she posted a four-under 68 to reach 15 under and increase her lead to two strokes.
Tseng, however, provided an ominous presence as the leader’s nearest challenger after a second successive 66, the best round by any of the main contenders on a day when scoring generally proved tougher.
At 13 under, Tseng was four clear of home hope Catriona Matthew, the player she had succeeded as the Champion 12 months earlier, and Park.
The favourite was understandably positive as she prepared for her final-round showdown with Masson.
“I have won tournaments, lost tournaments and learned from the experience,” said Tseng. “I know that will help tomorrow. I’ll play one shot at a time and try not to think too much. I just want to keep my chest out and my chin up. That’s what I have been doing this year and it helps me to stay relaxed and keep thinking positive.”
Tseng’s march to glory
A bogey at the first represented a surprisingly shaky start for Tseng on Sunday, but it was not long before she was in complete control of the Championship.
Birdies at the third, sixth and 11th lifted her into a commanding lead at 15 under as Masson faded.
When Tseng bogeyed the 12th and 13th, her grip on the title appeared at risk, but she responded like a true Champion by picking up shots at three of the last five holes to complete a 69.
Her 16-under aggregate of 272 was good enough for a four-shot victory over Brittany Lang (67), with Sophie Gustafson third, Amy Yang fourth and Masson sharing fifth with Matthew, who had been on course to finish higher before a double-bogey on the 72nd hole.
“This feels very special,” said Tseng, who had now amassed a remarkable haul of five major titles at the age of 22.
“It’s wonderful, especially winning on this golf course. So many players have made history on this course.”
We are close to discovering who will follow Tseng into the history books at Carnoustie. Buy tickets for the 2021 AIG Women’s Open here.