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Yani Tseng rallies to win NW Arkansas Championship, beating Michelle Wie by 1 stroke

Make room for another contender to become women's golf's next dominant player.

Yani Tseng made four birdies in a crucial five-hole stretch on the back nine en route to a 6-under 65 on Sunday that gave her a third LPGA Tour victory of the year. Tseng, of Taiwan, held off Michelle Wie by one stroke in the Northwest Arkansas Championship when both players made birdies on the final hole.

The victory helped Tseng jump to the top of the Rolex Player of the Year race, and she also is second on the money list. Now, she's firmly involved in the discussion of who might take over the mantle as women's golf's next transcendent player after the recent retirements of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa.

"When I was young, I was watching them play, so I just feel like I really need to win more tournaments, to be really working hard to be chasing them," said Tseng, who actually bought Sorenstam's home in Florida. "Even though they're retired, I think they're still No. 1 in the world."

Ai Miyazato is right behind Tseng in the player of the year standings, followed by Cristie Kerr and Jiyai Shin. Miyazato finished tied for ninth in Arkansas, and Shin tied for fifth.

Before winning Sunday, Tseng had to withstand a torrid stretch Saturday by Wie, who might soon be in the conversation herself for the title of top women's golfer. Wie shot a 7-under 28 for her first nine holes in the second round, but she settled for a 69 in the third on Sunday after entering the day with a three-stroke lead.

Tseng finished at 13-under 200.

"Yani played great," Wie said. "Usually, if you're 12 under, it's good enough. I played good today. I had faith in myself, a couple iron shots went a little bit left today."

The 20-year-old Wie was trying for her second straight win. She won the Canadian Women's Open late last month.

Juli Inkster, who at 50 was trying to become the oldest player to win on the tour, shot 72 and finished seven shots back at Pinnacle Country Club. She'd entered the day tied for second with Tseng and Na Yeon Choi.

Tseng has five career LPGA victories, including three majors. She won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Women's British Open this year.

Wie and Tseng were grouped with Inkster on Sunday. Tseng began the round with a long birdie putt on the first hole after the other two players appeared in better position. That set the tone for a day in which Tseng needed only 26 putts.

"I feel really good because my putting stroke has been getting better and better," Tseng said. "After I make that putt, I felt more comfortable with my putting, so I putted really well today."

Wie led Tseng by two strokes after both players birdied the 11th, but Tseng kept the pressure on. Although Wie scrambled to make pars on Nos. 13, 14 and 15, Tseng birdied 12, 14 and 15 to take the lead.

Wie then bogeyed No. 16 to fall two strokes back, but hit an outstanding tee shot on the par-3 17th and made a birdie, one of only six on that hole all day.

"That was a great shot she hit on 17," Tseng said. "But I told myself, 'I just need to make a two-putt and make birdie on the next hole and I know we can do it.'"

The next hole was No. 18, a 515-yard par 5 that Wie had eagled the previous day. Tseng missed the fairway but hit a tremendous second shot from about 200 yards to the fringe, around 20 feet from the hole.

"I hit a great shot," Tseng said. "I think I got pretty lucky to bounce a little left."

Wie then missed the green with her second shot, all but ending her chances. Tseng's winning birdie came on a putt from inside 2 feet.

Tseng has played well in majors, but she struggled in some of the less prestigious tournaments. After winning the Women's British Open, she tied for 45th at the Safeway Classic and missed the cut in Canada.