Taipei, June 4 (CNA) Top-ranked female golfer Yani Tseng uncharacteristically failed to make a run in the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey on Sunday to finish outside of the top 10 of an LPGA event for the first time this year.
On a day when most of the top contenders shot even par or better, the Taiwanese star struggled to a 1-over 72 that left her at 3-under for the tournament, nine strokes behind runaway winner Stacy Lewis of the United States.
Australian Katherine Hull finished second at 8-under and Mika Miyazato of Japan and Azahara Munoz of Spain were tied for third at 7-under.
Taiwan's Candie Kung, finished at 7-over, tied for 71st.
Tseng, who entered the round tied for seventh, eight shots behind Lewis, had hoped to start strong to put pressure on leader and the other six golfers grouped just one or two shots ahead of her.
But while Lewis left no doubt that she would win the tournament with a 3-under 34 on the front nine, Tseng stumbled to five bogeys against just one birdie over the same holes, putting her run of eight straight top 10 finishes this year in serious jeopardy.
She rebounded with four birdies, including one each on the final two holes, on the back nine against just one bogey, but she still finished one shot outside the top 10 in the US$1.5 million tournament.
In seven prior stroke-play events this year, Tseng had won three times, and finished third, fifth, tied for eighth and tied for 10th. She also tied for ninth at the Sybase Match Play Championship after being eliminated in the round of 16.
Of greater concern is that Tseng appears to be struggling, at least by her lofty standards, heading into the first major of the year, the US$2.5 million LPGA championship that begins on Thursday. Tseng won the title last year by 10 strokes.
Tseng had hoped to find her game at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, after a disappointing showing in the match play event two weeks earlier.
"I gave 100 percent effort and it didn't come out as good as I wanted it. Not even close," she was quoted as saying by the Press of Atlantic City before this week's tournament began.
She told the paper that when she struck the ball at the match play event, what she thought would happen and what actually did were two different things.
"It's been a long time since I felt that way," Tseng said. "Most times even if I didn't play well, my game was still there."
Tseng must now be wondering where her game will be when one of the biggest stages in women's golf rolls around later this week.
(By Jamie Wang and Luke Sabatier)