At just 22 years old, Yani Tseng is dominating the world of women’s professional golf. She ranks Number 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Her 11 tournament wins worldwide this year, including seven Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour titles, inspired the LPGA to declare November 11, 2011, “Yani Tseng Day.”
Her wins this year included many milestones. At the LPGA Championship in June, she came in 19 under par and tied the record for lowest score in relation to par ever shot in a major championship by a man or woman. She defeated the runner-up by 10 strokes, a landslide victory. With her win at the RICOH Women’s British Open in July, she became the youngest golfer, male or female, to win five major championships. To compare, Tiger Woods did it at age 24.
Tseng was born in Taiwan. Inspired by her golfer parents, she started playing golf at age 5 and quickly caught on. She would go to the driving range every day after school. She became a top-ranked amateur player in Taiwan before turning professional in 2007. Tseng, who now lives in Florida, joined the LPGA Tour in 2008, and won her first career victory at the LPGA Championship during her rookie year.
In October, Tseng returned to Taiwan to play in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Some 12,000 fans came out to see her play, a record turnout in the country. After the tournament, Tseng donated $100,000 to the Golf Association Republic of China to help train and develop young golfers in Taiwan.
The Women’s Sports Foundation honored her with the Sportswoman of the Year award this year. Tseng says she will continue to work hard to improve her game. When not on the green, she works out and plays pool to improve her putt. “I didn’t think I’d win one major, but now I have five majors in four years, so it’s a very exciting time for me,” Tseng told TIME after her win at the British Open. “I feel like my career is just getting started.”
For her drive on and off the green, Yani Tseng is a nominee for TFK’s 2011 Person of the Year.