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World No. 1 Yani Tseng gets first local sponsorship deal

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's Yani Tseng, the world's top-ranked player in women's golf, signed her first sponsorship deal with a Taiwanese company on Sunday, more than four years after turning pro and nearly three years since cracking the top 10.

One of the most recognizable personalities in women's golf, Tseng added Taiwan-based Taishin Financial Holding Co. to her growing list of sponsors, after signing a deal with Beijing-based Reignwood Group on April 26.

The 22-year-old signed the deal with Taishin Chairman Thomas Wu in front of Vice President Vincent Siew, Golf Association of the Republic of China head Hsu Tien-ya, and her parents, among others.

Tseng's inability to secure a major local sponsor is somewhat surprising considering she broke into the world top 10 for good in June 2008 after winning her first major, the LPGA Championship.

Top golfers from other countries, such as world No. 2 Jiyai Shin from South Korea, who is backed by South Korea-based Mirae Asset Financial Group, usually strike deals soon after they show potential to be competitive on the world stage.

As the head of the first Taiwanese enterprise to sponsor Tseng, Wu said he hoped his company's move would encourage more local companies to follow suit.

Wu refused to disclose the amount of the deal and Tseng said she was not aware of the contents of the contract, but it was widely reported that Tseng will be paid about US$500,000 a year to endorse Taishin and put the company's logo on her golf bag.

Tseng's two-year contract with China's Reignwood Group was also for a reported US$500,000 to US$600,000 a year.

With the addition of the new sponsor, Tseng is expected to earn US$2 million in endorsement fees this year, roughly the same as Shin's US$2.03 million.

The recent sponsorship deal have come after Taiwanese top pool player Wu Chia-ching adopted Chinese nationality to pursue what he believed were better financial opportunities in his sport in China, stirring up a heated discussion in Taiwan over the country's difficult environment for professional athletes.

Asked about Wu's move, Tseng said, “I definitely hope the government and Taiwan's organizations can give more support to our sports since we are still not quite well-developed.

“I hope people can be more supportive because I think we have a good environment and also many good athletes,” she said.

The Taoyuan native said she would not consider playing for another country because Taiwan is where her home is and the place where she was trained to become who she is today.

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