Monday, August 17, 2009


Who is Y.E. Yang? I didn't know anything about this guy until yesterday. I had seen his name on entry lists for WGC events and majors, but no one ever paid any attention to him until he tamed Tiger on Sunday at the PGA Championship. I told a friend Sunday morning before the final group teed off that "the Chinese guy built like a Shen" (look at those forearms) would blow up right away and not be a factor. Had Yang fulfilled my prediction, I probably would not have figured out that he isn't actually Chinese, but South Korean. Instead, the thick, fun-loving, soon-to-be major champion tied for the best score of the day to erase a two shot deficit and defeat possibly the best golfer ever by three strokes. I loved his personality and demeanor throughout the round. He did not let Woods's intimidating presence and history of dominance get in the way of his own game. He stayed loose, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy every hole of the battle between him and a golfer he had never met before. Yang played very tidy golf the whole round while Tiger struggled with the putter. The turning point in the match came at hole 14. It is an excellent hole for the back nine of a major championship. A drivable par-4 at not much more than 300 yards left Tiger licking his chops as he stepped onto the 14th tee. Neither player drove the green even though they both tried to. Tiger played his second shot from the bunker first, and had a decent leave. Yang played next from the rough to the left of that same bunker. He hit a beautiful chip that rolled across the green into the cup for an eagle 2. That shot proved he had a chance to win. The two-some left the 17th green with Yang ahead by one. Tiger bombed his tee shot on 18 way past Yang's onto the fairway. I was convinced that Tiger was pouncing on another victim and victory in dramatic fashion similar to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Then Yang stuffs a 3-hybrid from the intermediate cut on the wrong side of the hole over the bunker to within feet of the cup. Before Woods even has a chance to convince Yang that Nantz(y) will never be able to pull out his Y.E.S., Yang holes his birdie putt and celebrates unlike any South Korean on the LPGA Tour ever has. My personal favorite was the golf bag power clean. Americans may think that more golf fans would have preferred to see Woods win yet another major, but those Americans may underestimate the tsunami of excitement Yang's victory created in Asia. China and South Korea are golf's fastest growing markets, and with his victory at Hazeltine, Y.E. became the first Asian ever to win a major championship. That thick, little man with a beaming smile must be proud.

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