Top golfer mulls quitting Taiwan to play for a foreign country

Top golfer mulls quitting Taiwan to play for a foreign country Taipei  - Women's world number two golfer Yani Tseng is mulling playing for a foreign country because she is unhappy about the neglect of the sport in her native Taiwan.

Tseng's father Tseng Mao-hsin on Wednesday confirmed a news report from the United Daily News that lack of respect for the sport in her home country, and not money, has prompted the move.

The report on Wednersday said Tseng is unhappy because Taiwan does not take golf seriously and has not responded for her call to hold a LPGA tournament in the country, even though LPGA has already approved the event.

Tseng has been invited to play for China and has been asked to give Beijing an answer before the end of the year, the United Daily News said.

Her father confirmed the report in an interview with cable TV channel ETTV.

"What makes us angry is that even at your home, you are not valued. When Singapore invited her, they let her fly first class and stay in the best hotel. But when she returns to Taiwan, her golf club and hand-carry luggage weighed over ten kilo, and our airline wanted to charge her for excess baggage," he said.

Tseng Mao-hsin said that not only China, but three or four Southeast Asian countries have approached his daughter.

"We she quits Taiwan, she would not play for China, but may consider play for a Southeast Asian nation," he said, hinting at the political tensions between China and Taiwan.

Despite improved cross-strait ties, many Taiwanese resent China because Beijing sees Taiwan as its breakaway province, awaiting reunification with the motherland.

Yani Tseng, 20, was Taiwan's top amateur golfer 2004-2006 and turned pro in 2007.

She captured her first LPGA Tour title in June 2008 and is currently ranked second in the rankings behind Mexico's Lorena Ochoa.

Like other Taiwanese professional and amateur golfers, Tseng now lives mostly in the United States because it is easier for her to train and attend tournaments.

The news on Tseng came a few days after sports officials confirmed that Taiwan's top pool player Wu Chia-ching is considering a move to Singapore after talks for increased pay with Taiwan's billiard association collapsed.

On Wednesday, Government spokesman Su Jun-pin promised that the island would improve conditions for athletes to prevent them from defecting to other countries.

"We need to create a better environment and to give them higher prize money," he told reporters.

A golf official said he understood Yani Tseng's frustration over Taiwan's neglect of golf.

"Holding the LPGA tournament is a good chance for Taiwan to gain international exposure because it will attract the world's top golfers and many reporters. Through Tseng and others' effort, the LPGA has approved holding the tournament in Taiwan in August," the official told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

"But the tournament must be held by our country, and our government has not said it will hold the event. So Tseng sent an email to the Presidential Office last month, hoping President Ma could support holding the tournament, but the Presidential Office has not replied to her yet," he noted. (dpa)