YE Yang produces the unthinkable - sinking Tiger Woods

By Rex HoggardAugust 16, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' Sean OHair teed off first on a cloudy, Minnesota Sunday at the 91st PGA Championship and played without a noncompeting marker. Tiger Woods teed off last with one named Y.E. Yang, or so it seemed when the 110th-ranked player in the world became the only thing standing between the world No. 1 and Grand Slam No. 15.
Before he headed home for a restless nights sleep Saturday, the effusive Yang figured he was a 70-to-1 long shot ' a reference to Woods career Tour victories (70) and his own tally (one) ' to become the first player to run down Woods at a major championship on a Sunday. Truth is, Yang was probably closer to a 513-to-1 long shot, marking the spots where the two, respectively, began the year in the World Ranking.
Y.E. Yang makes eagle at the PGA Championship
Y.E. Yang reacts to his eagle chip-in on the 14th hole Sunday. (Getty Images)
It had to happen, or at least thats what Padraig Harrington and those who plow through buckets of range balls looking for answers tell themselves. Woods was 14-for-14 when entering the final round of a major with at least a share of the 54-hole lead. Yet as the regular suspects peeled away during a fevered final round the impossible, a 37-year-old Korean who took up the game at about the same age (19) as when Woods was taking over the game, became the perfectly placed.
Ive never seen a golfer put less pressure on himself to perform, said Brian Mogg, Yangs Florida-based swing coach. We talked all along that he might be the one to take (Woods) down because he has a rare gift to relax.
If Yang ' a Tour rookie who won this years Honda Classic ' was feeling the heat of history or the games greatest closer he never showed it.
The Minnesota masses wanted drama ' they got Y.E. Fleck.
Yangs three-stroke victory over Woods is not the greatest upset the game has ever seen, but behind Jack Flecks stunner over Ben Hogan at the 1955 U.S. Open and Francis Ouimets historic triumph over Harry Vardon and Edward Ray at the 1913 U.S. Open, its the leader in the clubhouse for this century.
Cats dont chase dogs, majors arent won on Fridays and Woods doesnt cough up 54-hole leads. Yet as a windy Sunday afternoon trundled on the impossible slowly became the inevitably, due in equal parts to Yangs steady play and Woods shaky putting.
By the time the days final two-ball reached the fifth hole Woods two-stroke lead was gone, the victim of Yangs birdie at the third and Woods three-putt bogey, his second consecutive three-pop on the hole, at the fourth. From there, Woods putting only got worse.
He missed birdie attempts inside 11 feet at the 10th (8 feet), 13th (11 feet) and 15th (11 feet) holes.
I just have to say terrible day on the greens, said Woods, who closed with a 75, his highest final round at a major since the 2004 U.S. Open. I either misread the putt or had bad putts. I did everything I needed to do except for getting the ball in the hole.
It was a missed 12 footer at the 17th that likely hurt the most, however. Trailing Yang by one shot, Woods tee shot caught a gust, sailed long and he failed to convert the par attempt.
From there Yang looked more like Woods than a rookie with a thin resume.
I wasn't that nervous, honestly, because it's a game, said Yang, who closed with a 70 for an 8-under total. It's not like you're in an octagon where you're fighting against Tiger and he's going to bite you or swing at you with his 9-iron. So the worst I can do was just lose to Tiger and probably go a few ranks down in the final scoreboard.
Charlie Wi, one of Yangs closest friends on Tour, called his mans putting stroke, beautiful, and, other than a late miscue at the 17th green, he was flawless on the greens. But it was a 52-degree wedge from 30 yards that ultimately secured Koreas first major championship.
From just short of the drivable par-4 14th green, Yang ran in his eagle try, taking the lead for the first time all week and igniting an otherwise stunned crowd. There were plenty of fist pumps the rest of the way, just none from Woods.
The two traded pars, and bogeys at No. 17, the rest of the way until Yang put an end to Woods quest for a fifth Wanamaker Trophy with a 3-iron hybrid from 210 yards that rolled to 8 feet for birdie at the last.
Woods, whose track record suggests he can be the cruelest of closers, could only watch as one of the circuits nicest guys took him apart.
Chaska, Minn., population 17,449 minus one silver keepsake, is the kindest corner of Americana. Nice folk? Oh sure, you betcha. And Yang is the perfect champion for one of the most polite points on the map.
When the general public gets to know him they are going to fall in love with him because he has a heart as big as this place, said Yangs caddie A.J. Montecinos as he clutched a Bible in the pocket of his bib.
For the second PGA Hazeltine National produced an unknown and utterly likeable champion. Rich Beem danced an awkward jig when he held off Woods at the 2002 PGA. On Sunday Yang hoisted his golf bag into the air to flash the South Korean flag and a wide smile.
The champion may have been unheralded, but this PGA began under sunny skies and with a leaderboard as bright as any major this year.
In order Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Lucas Glover, Harrington and Robert Allenby all flirted with the lead and ultimately failed.
Singh made a game of it before he left his belly putter in his locker and his title chances on Hazeltine Nationals bumpy greens, while Westwood came up short, again, and has assumed the role of European bridesmaid, posting his third third-place finish in his last seven majors.
Phil Mickelson made the cut on the number and nothing else. Lefty edged out just two players on Hazeltine Nationals greens for the week, both club pros, with 127 putts and Allenby, who has been driven to taking putting tips from Singh of all people, may have been the weeks best ballstriker but struggled to hole anything. And they say Augusta National is a putting contest.
The Heartbreak Slam was completed, however, when Harrington, fresh off his near miss at Firestone and rejuvenated, hit his tee shot into a pond, hit his third shot into the same pond (rinse, repeat) and almost hit his playing partner Henrik Stenson with another wayward attempt on Sunday at the eighth. Irish eyes winched when Harrington finally signed for a quintuple bogey-8, his third snowman in as many weeks and this one had nothing to do with a stopwatch.
I had been changing my chipping action a little and I probably was more into what I was doing rather than trying to get the ball up-and-down, said Harrington, who never recovered and finished tied for 10th after a closing 78.
But like Angel Cabrera (Masters), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open) and Stewart Cink (British Open), Yang was not a spoiler, just superior to everyone else thanks to a silky putter, steady driver and the perfectly relaxed demeanor for the most pressure-packed of situations.
Fifteen minutes before Yang teed off for his final round at this years Honda Classic he made a nervous phone call to Mogg.
I told him to get everything smooth and relaxed, Mogg said. Talk smooth, swing smooth, walk smooth.
On Sunday morning at Hazeltine National, Mogg texted Yang the same message, a simple lesson that had somehow eluded all that final-round road kill Woods had piled up over the years.
Who knew?
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    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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    Teenager Im wins season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.