Found In Translation


Y.E. Yang, the best player nobody had ever heard of until this week at the Honda Classic, was all of a sudden pushing his long irons and fairway woods to the right.
The good news was that he was still on the range at Palm Beach Gardens, preparing for Sundays final round of a tournament in which he was the 54-hole leader.
South Koreas Yang instructed his interpreter, Michael Yim, to phone his swing coach, top 100 instructor Brian Mogg, and ask for help.
Michael told me Y.E. was hitting it a little squirrelly in his warm-up, Mogg said. I just reminded him to keep his head behind the ball and rotate properly.
Y.E. Yang
Y.E. Yang celebrates his first PGA Tour victory. (Getty Images)
Yang promptly went out and birdied the third, fourth and fifth holes to take a commanding four-shot lead over Robert Allenby, Jeff Klauk and Charlie Wi. More good things would soon follow.
Mogg and Yang, who entered Honda ranked 460th in the world, had begun working together at Memorial last year. They started with putting and that quickly evolved into a full swing mechanics. One of Moggs top male players, Bart Bryant, is a former champion at Memorial. Mogg also works with South Korean Mi Hyun Kim, one of the top 30 players in the womens Rolex world rankings.
Mogg and Yang spent extensive time together at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in early February. The next week Yang had what Mogg describes as a breakthrough aha! moment on the range at Poppy Hills prior to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
This week, Mogg said, I was really excited driving home (to Orlando) from PGA National. I was thinking this guy is close enough. He could win on the PGA Tour in the next couple of weeks.
Now Yang is a PGA Tour winner thanks to a one-shot victory over John Rollins at Honda. He might be the next Korean star, Johnny Miller said.
The victory is worth a million dollars and change to Yang monetarily. But it also counts for much more. It gets him into next weeks WGC-CA Championship at Doral; into next months Masters and into The Players in May. It also moves Yang into the top 10 in the FedEx Cup point standings.
Prior to this week Yang, 37, was something of a journeyman. He had managed a top 10 at Pebble Beach last year and a victory at the 2006 HSBC Champions, a co-sanctioned European Tour event played in Asia, in which he beat Tiger Woods by two shots.
But K.J. Choi, a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour and two years older than Yang, was the only South Korean male golfer who was a known name in any golf households in America. And, said none other than Jack Nicklaus, K.J. is king in Korea.
The other part of Yangs relative anonymity has to do with the swarm of Asian women, most of them South Koreans, on the LPGA. Sunday in Singapore South Koreas 20-year-old sensation Jiyai Shin won her fourth LPGA event in the last eight months. That run has included a major victory at the Womens British last August. Her nickname in her homeland is the Final Round Queen.
South Korean men, on the other hand, are required to serve two years in the military in their prime. And all of them get a much later start in golf than the females. Theres no question that the Korean Sports Federation gives much more early support to the women than they do to their men, said Mogg, a former touring pro who played five years in Asia before turning to teaching full time.
So it was that Y.E. Yang entered the final round of the Honda Classic knowing that a victory might be the second biggest golf story of the weekend in South Korea behind Shins win.
But no longer will he toil in relative obscurity in his native land or anywhere else where golf is spoken.
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