Yani Tseng wins Kia Classic by 6

Updated: March 25, 2012, 11:48 PM ET
Associated Press

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Minutes after wrapping her second straight LPGA Tour victory and third of the season, Yani Tseng was looking ahead to the first major championship of the season.

"I can't wait to start on Thursday," the top-ranked Taiwanese star about the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

On Sunday in the Kia Classic, she closed with a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory. She finished at 14-under 274 on La Costa's Legends Course and has had at least a share of the lead after all eight rounds the last two weeks.

"Today the first hole, I just kind of felt like every day is the same," Tseng said. "I didn't feel like today was Sunday. I didn't feel like I had a three-shot lead. I just focused on playing one shot at a time. I think I did a good job to just kind of focus on myself."

At 23, Tseng became the second-youngest player to reach 15 LPGA Tour victories. Nancy Lopez was 22 when she reached the mark.

Tseng won the LPGA Founders Cup last week in Phoenix and also won the LPGA Thailand in February. She led the tour last season with seven victories -- including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women's British Open -- and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.

"I think it is her work ethic," said Brittany Lincicome, 11 shots back at 3 under. "She has put a lot of effort into being No. 1. She has definitely raised the bar for the rest of us."

South Korea's Sun Young Yoo had a 71 to finish second.

"I think I played pretty good," Yoo said. "I just didn't make the short ones out there. It was a little too bumpy. She (Tseng) played great. There is nothing I can say. Yeah, it was fun to watch."

Shanshan Feng shot a 67 -- the best round of the day -- to tie for third with South Korea's Jiyai Shin at 7 under. Shin had a 74.

Tseng began the round with a three-stroke lead over Shin. The straight-hitting Shin birdied the second hole to pull within one, but struggled with her putter, missing par tries of 3 feet or closer on Nos. 6, 12 and 15.

Tseng chipped in for birdie on the par-4 fifth and also birdied the par-4 ninth. She made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th and took a six-stroke lead when Shin bogeyed the par-4 16th.

"You can see in her face she has a lot of confidence," Shin said. "Even her swing, too, she has a great follow-through and good alignment right now, so that makes her strong."

Tseng had a three-putt bogey from 30 feet on the final hole, her only three-putt green of the week.

She will be seeking her sixth major title this week at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage.

Last year in the Kraft Nabisco, Tseng had the 54-hole lead, but closed with a 74 and lost to Stacy Lewis. It was the last time in seven events that Tseng has lost going into the final round with the lead.

"I was very, very close last year," Tseng said. "But when I look back, I was very happy that I didn't win because that's why I'm learning. If you keep winning, you don't know what you're going to learn.

"Last year was a huge experience for me, and I'm just heading into next week and I'm look forward to it. I know what I'm going to do and still play one shot at a time, be patient, and I love that golf course. The golf course suits me pretty well and suits my game."

With the victory Sunday, she earned her 23rd point toward qualifying for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. Twenty-seven points and 10 years of service on the LPGA Tour are needed for induction.

"The Hall of Fame is my dream since I was young," Tseng said. "The first year on the tour, I mean, that really is my big dream. So I always keep that in my mind, and I try to win every tournament, focus on every tournament to see how can I improve."

Tseng also won $255,000 and a Kia Optima Limited.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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