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Rare score for Taiwan as local star wins LPGA tournament – at home

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Wally Santana/AP

(Read caption) Yani Tseng of Taiwan celebrates after winning the LPGA Taiwan Championship at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Taoyuan, Taiwan, on Oct. 23.

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Taiwan seldom raises an international sports hero and even less frequently hosts an internationally recognized sporting event – not that it hasn't tried.

Pitcher Wang Chien-ming was scoring his way up the Major League Baseball charts until 2008, when he sat out much of two seasons with injuries. Ultra-marathon runner Kevin Lin of Taipei made a mark crossing the Sahara Desert in 2007 but failed to grab a global following.

Taiwan's archrival China, with more economic clout and diplomatic support, sees Taiwan as part of its turf and urges world sports associations, as well as other international bodies, to ignore the place. Taiwanese players abroad often typically play under a “Chinese Taipei” flag to imply a bond to China.

But, this Sunday something changed for Taiwan and brought it a step closer to international sports legitimacy: It got both its superstar and its event as Yani Tseng won the first-ever Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament on her home turf. She came in first in a field of 90 golfers at 16 under par, five strokes ahead of runners-up Azahara Munoz of Spain and Amy Yang of South Korea.

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