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Tseng's wins remain a footnote

Rory McIlroy wins his first major at 22 and goes on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Yani Tseng wins her fourth major at 22 and remains as anonymous as a doorstop.

McIlroy wins the U.S. Open by eight shots and the golf fans sit mesmerized, marveling at his show of force. Tseng lambastes the Wegmans LPGA Championship field by 10 and golf fans change the channel, bemoaning the lack of drama (if, that is, they bothered to tune in at all).

Right now there's no better golfer on the planet than Tseng relative to the competition. In fact, there's no more dominant female athlete in the world no matter what the sport. A win at the U.S. Women's Open in Colorado next month would give her the career grand slam.

The career slam? Annika Sorenstam won her first major at 24. What does Tseng do when there's no more room on her belt for the notches? Take up tennis?

It's sick is what it is. Tseng has won three of 10 tournaments this year and placed top 10 in eight of them. She had the season's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, in her pocket before giving it away to Stacy Lewis. What did she learn from that experience? Six holes into Sunday her five-shot lead had ballooned to nine. It's hard to catch what you can't see.

As good as she is, Tseng's as recognizable in the United States as the Secretary of the Interior. She can go almost anywhere in the country without anyone eying her twice, let alone greeting her with, "Hey, aren't you "

"I'm with her quite often," said Taiwanese compatriot Candie Kung. "Normally we don't get recognized."

So they were blown away the other night when, while at dinner, the restaurant owner realized the world's top-ranked women's golfer was sitting at one of his tables.

"But it was a Japanese restaurant," Kung smiled. "The other thing is, we're Asian. We're in the USA. Less people are going to recognize us. If she is an American, if she looks blond and everything, she's going to be recognized everywhere she goes."

Well, it's certainly worked for Natalie Gulbis, she of one career victory.

It's different for Tseng back in her homeland, where every accomplishment magnifies the nation's pride, where the paparazzi prowl. When Tseng became world No. 1 in February president Ma Ying-jeou described her as the "light of Taiwan," saying, "Your fame has spread far and wide and you have won honor for Taiwan. I extend my congratulations to you for that."

"All the gossip magazines talk about her," added Hung. "You've made it in the gossip magazines, that means you're very popular."

The LPGA has to figure out how it's going to market Tseng. She's affable. She's witty. She's going to win a ton more.

And former LPGA commish Carolyn Bevins will be happy to know she speaks wonderful English!

Women's golf has been fighting this battle forever, struggling for relevance in a sporting world where spectator options abound. Tseng provides another opportunity for the tour to score in the public relations department, to make inroads into the sports mainstream, because no golfer, male or female, has accomplished what she's accomplished at such an early age.

"We definitely need to get her on the monitor a little more, let her talk about golf more, have more chance that people know about her," Hung said. "Maybe we can create opportunity for people to know her personality. Usually people see us swinging or playing golf but they don't know our personality and don't know what other things we can do."

e-mail: bdicesare@buffnews.com