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Tseng in a league of her own
Question of the Day
Is Tseng that good? Or has the bar been set too low?
The LPGA Tour used to have the most stringent criteria for any Hall of Fame. It used a sliding performance scale _ 30 wins and five majors, 35 wins and one major or 40 wins and no majors. Small wonder that only 14 women were in the Hall of Fame.
A committee worked years to finally change it in 1999. Since then, 10 players from the LPGA Tour have been inducted, all deserving.
Now the measure is 27 points _ two points for a major, one point for an LPGA win, one point for player of the year, one point for winning the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Players also must be on tour for 10 years before they can be inducted.
Webb needed only five years to get her 27 points, during a time in her career when she won the career Grand Slam in a span of eight majors, the quickest of anyone. Webb and Sorenstam were so good they would have qualified under the old system. Ditto for Juli Inkster, whose career was interrupted to raise two daughters.
Meg Mallon was part of the committee that changed the Hall of Fame criteria, and she has no qualms with players qualifying so quickly.
“We were looking at a Hall of Fame where nobody was going in,” Mallon said Tuesday. “We still wanted it to be for players who separated themselves in their generation. Yani has separated herself. She deserves the Hall of Fame. We’ve had players go in at both ages, and we still think it reflects who was the best.”
As for the competition? That’s difficult to measure.
Making it even more peculiar in women’s golf is the recent passing of the torch. Sorenstam looked unbeatable until Ochoa came along, ended the Swede’s dominance and then was in a league of her own until she, too, abruptly retired.
Ochoa was going for her third straight major at the 2008 LPGA Championship, leading through 36 holes, when a 19-year-old rookie from Taiwan came along and beat her. That was Tseng, who went on to win the Nabisco and the Women’s British Open in 2010, and then the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British last year.
Now, it’s Tseng who rules her sport.
That group featured Pat Bradley, Amy Alcott, Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Patty Sheehan and Betsy King. During the 1980s alone, they combined to win 15 out of the 40 majors, and collectively they had 54 finishes in the top five. Alcott was the only one from that group who did not win player of the year during that decade.
“It was hard to have that singular dominance,” Mallon said. “They all had player-of-the-year seasons. They all wanted to beat each other. Can you imagine if we still had Annika and Lorena playing, what that would have been like?”
As it is, it looks at times as though Tseng is playing alone.
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