That’s what makes golf great.
Y.E. Yang pulled off two of the best shots in major championship history on the back nine Sunday afternoon to fend off Tiger Woods and win the PGA Championship at Hazeltine CC in suburban Minneapolis. The win was the first ever for an Asian born player in a major and leaves Woods 0-for-4 in majors in 2009.
Yang chipped in for eagle at #14 and looked like an easy bet to win when he had 18 feet for birdie at #17 and Woods was left with 12 feet downhill after a stabbing chip out of heavy rough behind the green. But Yang’s yip on his first putt left him 10 feet and he failed to convert the par putt moments after Tiger also missed his and the lead remained one heading to the home hole.
And then came the shot that sealed the deal, as Yang nailed a 206 yard 3-hybrid over trees and to 8-feet for a final birdie-dagger as Woods made bogey when pressed to go for the pin from 197 yards.
It was an amazing back nine that saw Yang play almost flawless golf and Woods fire and fall back in one of the very rare occasions when Tiger failed to deliver the goods on the final day of a major championship.
In fact, it was the first time EVER that Tiger led a major after 54 holes and didn’t win, ending a run of 14 straight triumphs when leading going into the final round.
The rest of the lot did their usual Sunday fold-job. Harrington, Glover, Els, Stenson and Kjeldsen all eliminated themselves by the time Yang and Woods reached the back nine. Only Y.E. and Tiger played reasonably solid golf, although anyone watching who knows what they’re looking at could clearly see on Saturday and Sunday that Woods wasn’t anywhere near as sharp as he needed to be to win.
Tiger didn’t stop to speak to the CBS folks, instead heading to the interview room to conduct his questions and answers with the media.
Then again, if I lost to a guy who was dressed like the towel boy at the Palm Desert Day Spa, I might not be in the talking mood, either.
He handled his defeat well in the post-round press conference. I guess having $600 million and 14 majors makes losing to Y.E. Yang a little more tolerable.
I wrote immediately after his early exit at the British Open that I thought Tiger would part ways with teacher Hank Haney if he didn’t win the PGA Championship. Some guys would do cartwheels if they finished 2nd at a major title (*ahem*, Kenny Perry) but I don’t think Tiger’s going to be buying rounds for the boys back at Isleworth tomorrow.
In fact, I think this text message might go out sometime Monday: “HH, I need to c u this week, k? Call my asst and set up a time to meet. TW”
I think Hank Haney pays the price for Tiger’s 0-fer in 2009 majors.
Despite winning the last two events prior to the PGA Championship, Tiger’s swing hasn’t been up to his standards virtually all season. The field he beat in Grand Blanc two weeks ago was a notch better than a Nationwide Tour event and last week’s win at Firestone shouldn’t really count – the man’s won there 7 times for God’s sake. Sure, a win’s a win, and 70 wins are 70 wins, but when called upon to hit shots that really mattered this weekend, Woods couldn’t do it. His approach shots weren’t good, his short game wouldn’t have won him the club championship at Mountain Branch last month and even though he didn’t putt poorly, per-se, he failed to make the ones that he needed to make.
And, of course, he went down to the final hole with a chance to win. Sucks to be that bad, huh?
All kidding aside, though, Tiger’s golf game – while still better than everyone else’s in the word – is subject to the occasional misfire when one or two of the spark plugs are missing.
The sparks that flew today were caused mainly by Y.E. Yang, a little known Korean player with a big heart who slayed the game’s greatest player on Sunday.
Finally, for Woods, he might want to pass if another major is ever held at Hazeltine in his career. In 2002, he was bested by the equally flukey Rich Beem, who parlayed a weekend of precision ball striking into his 15 minutes of fame. Today, it was Y.E. Yang – he of one PGA Tour win before this one – coming out on top.
Yang says they’ll be partying in Seoul tonight.
They should be.
He just pulled off one of the great upsets in modern golf history.
Someone get the man a towel. Preferably not a white one.