After her third win of year, Taiwan's Tseng says she wants to be No. 1

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Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 5:53 p.m.

Taiwan’s Yani Tseng says she aims to become the world’s No. 1 women’s golfer.

Tseng won the P&G Northwest Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour victory of the season. She also won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the Women’s British Open this year.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei on Tuesday, Tseng said her game needs to reach even higher levels if she is to improve on her current No. 4 ranking.

“I have to work on my putting and stamina … and make more birdies in the upcoming tournaments,” she said. “I have a good opportunity to become world No. 1 this year.”

Following her victory in Arkansas, Tseng is believed by many to have a shot at becoming the next dominant female player following the recent retirements of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa.

“In my heart they are still the best women’s players in the world,” Tseng said. “I hope in the future I can also be involved in more charity efforts just like them.”

The 21-year-old has won five LPGA Tour events in her career.

On Sunday in Arkansas, she shot a 6-under 65 to rally past second-round leader Michelle Wie. Tseng birdied four of five holes early on the back nine, then held on for a one-stroke victory over Wie with a birdie on No. 18. Tseng finished at 13-under 200.

Wie (69) gave up the lead on the back nine -- the same half of the course she played in 7-under 28 during a scintillating stretch Saturday.

"She's just so good," Tseng said of Wie. "I just really play, one shot at a time, but if I don't make lots of birdies today, I couldn't win."

Wie led by three strokes after two rounds but fell into a tie with Juli Inkster at 9 under when she three-putted No. 6 for a bogey. Wie responded with a birdie on No. 7 and led Tseng by two strokes after both players birdied the 11th.

"Yani played great," Wie said. "Usually, if you're 12 under, it's good enough. I played good today. I had faith in myself, a couple iron shots went a little bit left today."

Tseng kept the pressure on. Although Wie scrambled to make pars on Nos. 13, 14 and 15, Tseng birdied 12, 14 and 15 to take the lead.

Wie then bogeyed No. 16 to fall two strokes back, but hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-3 17th and made a birdie, one of only six on that hole all day.

That set up No. 18, a 515-yard par 5 that Wie had eagled the previous day. Tseng missed the fairway but hit a tremendous second shot from about 200 yards to the fringe, around 20 feet from the hole. Wie then missed the green with her second shot, all but ending her chances. Both players finished with birdies -- Tseng's on a putt from inside 2 feet.

Tseng has played well in majors, but she struggled in some of the less prestigious tournaments. Since winning the Women's British Open, she tied for 45th at the Safeway Classic and missed the cut at the Canadian Women's Open.

"I missed the cut last tournament and then I win this tournament," Tseng said. "It means so much difference for me -- seems like I was really prepared and ready for this tournament."

She's now firmly involved in the discussion of who might take over the mantle as women's golf's next dominant player after the recent retirements of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa.

"When I was young, I was watching them play, so I just feel like I really need to win more tournaments, to be really working hard to be chasing them," Tseng said. "Even though they're retired, I think they're still No. 1 in the world."The Arkansas event was only 54 holes but had a loaded field with almost every top player in the world. Inbee Park (65) finished fourth, five strokes behind the winner. Jiyai Shin (66) and Seon Hwa Lee (69), the last two champions at this event, were in a group of players another shot back.