YE Yang victory redefines global golf

By Doug FergusonAugust 17, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' For years, Asian countries could only boast about growth and potential in mens golf. Success was measured by a half-dozen players who had cracked the top 50 in the world rankings over the last decade.
It took Y.E. Yang and his stunning victory over Tiger Woods to make them a major part of the conversation.
Weve been waiting for quite a number of years for this, said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the hallowed Royal & Ancient Golf Club in Scotland. Perhaps the PGA Championship was not the one we were expecting. But its great for golf. Its great for Korea. Its great for Asia. And its very timely for getting back into the Olympics.
Its a fantastic day for golf.
Until the 2009 PGA Championship, players from every continent except Asia and Antarctica had captured a major championship over the last three years as global golf became a buzz term.
That changed Sunday at Hazeltine when Yang, a 37-year-old South Korean, delivered a shot felt across oceans. Leading by one shot against the worlds No. 1 player on the 18th hole, he struck a 3-iron hybrid from 210 yards around a tree, barely over a bunker and onto the green about 12 feet from the cup.
In the immediate aftermath, the magnitude of his victory was slow to sink in.
You never know in life, Yang said. This might be my last win as a golfer. But it sure is a great day.
The ramifications for South Korea, not to mention all of Asia, may take years to unfold. When Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots, many believed it would be a watershed moment for minorities on the PGA Tour. A dozen years later, he remains the tours only player of black heritage.
The Asian community was desperate for its own champion.
Growth happens two ways ' either stars at the top pulling it up, or grass-roots programs pushing it up, Dawson said. What Asian countries lacked is enough stars on the international stages. Lets hope its the first of many, and not a one-off. Its not just Korea, but Japan, India, China, Thailand. They will remember Yang. Hell be a household name in Asia.
Top golf executives have had their eyes on Asia the past several years.
The R&A and Augusta National earlier this year created the Asia Amateur tournament, to be played this fall in China and limited to Asian players, with the winner getting a ticket to the Masters. And the PGA Tour recently joined other tours to turn the HSBC Champions in China ' where Yang defeated Woods three years ago ' into a World Golf Championship.
Along the way, Asian-born golfers have made inroads.
Jeev Milkha Singh became the first player from India to win on the European Tour and compete in the Masters. Ryo Ishikawa of Japan was 15 when he became the youngest winner on a recognized tour. Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, who built his first golf club from a bamboo stick and scraps of bicycle tire, contended early at two World Golf Championships this year.
K.J. Choi of South Korea has seven PGA Tour victories, the most of any Asian, and last year climbed as high as No. 5 in the world.
Even so, Asian success in the majors had been relegated to close calls.
There was Liang-Huan Lu of Taiwan finishing one shot behind Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in the 1971 British Open, and Isao Aoki of Japan pushing Jack Nicklaus at Baltusrol in the 1980 U.S. Open until he had to settle for second place.
It was going to happen one day, said Woods, whose heritage is half-Asian through his Thai-born mother. If anyone would have thought it would have been a Korean player, people probably would have suspected it be K.J., because obviously hes played well for such a long period of time. Y.E. has won now a couple of big events. Hes getting better.
But it was just a matter of time.
The first breakthrough for Japan came in 1957 and what is now the World Cup, won by Torakichi Nakamura and Koichi Ono. For South Korea, major success had been limited to the women, starting with Se Ri Paks victory in the 1998 U.S. Womens Open. Perhaps no other player from any country has been a greater pioneer: Six other South Korean women have won LPGA majors since then.
Whether Yangs victory has a similar effect will take years to find out.
Wally Uihlein, CEO of the company that owns the Titleist and FootJoy brands, who helped match the China Golf Association and the Australian PGA to develop a teacher certification program in China, says growth depends on many factors.
Among them are a strong middle class, a golf teaching program, ample places to play'driving ranges are as important as golf courses ' and the presence of the professional game. If Yangs victory has a ripple effect, he believes the biggest waves will be in Korea.
Korea is in a league of its own, and no one should be surprised with their success in mens and womens golf, Uihlein said in an e-mail Monday morning. It has been taking shape for the past 10 years.
Yangs victory at the PGA Championship comes nearly one year after 18-year-old Danny Lee, who was born in South Korea and raised in New Zealand, won the U.S. Amateur to replace Woods in the record book as the youngest champion.
Two years ago, Seung Yul Noh had the lowest qualifying score in the U.S. Junior Amateur.
As to its impact on some of the other countries in the Pacific Basin, that remains to be seen, Uihlein wrote. One could argue as competitive as the region is, if Korea steps on the pedal, then the other countries will too, so as not to be left too far behind.
At the moment, Yang stands alone ' the first Asian-born man to win a major, the first player anywhere to beat Woods after he led going into the last round of a major.
This is heartening, Dawson said. This is long overdue.
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

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    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

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    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.