- Associated Press - Monday, August 2, 2010

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Yani Tseng, the 21-year-old Taiwanese golfer who won the Women’s British Open on Sunday, has received lavish praise at home, with one newspaper hailing her as the island’s Tiger Woods.

Tseng made a 6-foot putt on the last hole to win the title by one stroke, holding off Katherine Hull of Australia to capture her third major championship.

The mass circulation Apple Daily newspaper compared her favorably with Woods, suggesting that she might even be on course to surpass his golfing feats. The Apple said it took Woods until the age of 25 to win his third major title.

Cable news channel TVBS was already telling viewers to keep an eye on Tseng at next year’s women’s U.S. Open, where they’re hoping the Taiwanese golfer will complete the a career grand slam: “It is worth seeing whether Yani will win her fourth title at the U.S. Open.”

On Monday, Taiwanese television repeatedly replayed Tseng’s British Open triumph, showing her dressed in her trademark striped polo shirt, kissing the golf ball before the last putt and bursting into tears after winning the title.

Tseng’s mother, Yang Yu-yun, proudly showed TV reporters a congratulatory cable from Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, as she stood amid her daughter’s many trophies at their suburban Taipei home.

Golf boomed in Taiwan in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s the sport had started to fade, as government money and corporate sponsorships were funneled to more popular sports, particularly baseball.

Taiwan Golf Association head Hsu Tian-ya said Tseng’s victories had changed all that and the association had applied to host the 2011 LPGA championship.

Hsu said he got to know Tseng by sponsoring her training from the time she was 11 until she was 18. He described her as “a smart little girl more interested in playing than hard training.”

But with Tseng adding the British Open crown to previous triumphs at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this season and in 2008 at the LPGA championship, he said he now sees her as a role model for promoting the sport throughout the island.

Yani is Taiwan’s glory,” he said.