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Queen of clubs focused after tough year

World No.1 Yani Tseng.

World No.1 Yani Tseng. Photo: Getty Images

World No.1 Yani Tseng endured a rocky relationship with her golf clubs last year but now they have kissed and made up.

Before Thursday's Australian Open at Royal Canberra, Tseng said she broke down in tears when told by her coach to take the unusual step of thanking her golf clubs.

Having won four majors during 2010 and 2011, finishing fourth on last year's LPGA Tour is considered a lean year by fans who expect perfection from the 24-year-old.

But the Taiwanese superstar, named in Time magazine's top 100 most influential people in the world last year, says she is now better equipped to deal with the pressure.

''My coach told me I should be more appreciative of what I'm doing right now and he asked me a question - 'have you said thank you to your golf club?','' she said.

''I started crying because I feel like I never did that to my club. My club is my best friend.

''I do my job and my club does his job, so I know my club is helping me to win in a tournament, too.

''I know it's so funny but I always thank my caddie, thank my team. I never think about my club and then I started feeling very appreciative about everything.''

Last year, Tseng won three of her first five tournaments but missed three cuts and failed to crack the top 50 in five mid-season events.

Tseng will begin her Australian Open campaign in the same group as young guns Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko on Thursday morning.

''I know it's been a tough year for me but, when I look back, I have three wins, I have 12 top 10s, so that's still pretty good because all the people are putting high expectations on me, even myself,'' Tseng said. ''If I finished out of the top 10, people were like, 'what wrong with Yani?'

''Last year, I looked at lots of press and the news - it drove me crazy, people saying 'Yani is struggling' and 'Yani can't play golf any more'.

''I think I really learnt a lot about being able to appreciate everything. I know winning is not easy and I feel very lucky right now.

''I'm luckier than lots of people already and now I just want to focus on enjoying this week, enjoying my travelling and just keep smiling.''

Leading Australian Karrie Webb couldn't help but smile when asked about Tseng's so-called ''rough patch'' last year.

''Yeah, that was a terrible year she had last year - three wins, $1.5 million [prizemoney]. I would have hated to have had a year like that,'' Webb said.

''It's honestly physically impossible to maintain what she was doing and, until she gets a bit older, I don't think she'll realise that.''

Now refreshed after six weeks off, Tseng is ready to find her killer instinct again.

''I put the clubs away for six weeks,'' she said. ''I always play golf as my first priority but, after last year, I was really struggling and now I'm so excited to get back.''

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