South Korea celebrates YE Yangs victory over Tiger Woods

By Associated PressAugust 16, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipSEOUL, South Korea ' Eyes glued to the TV, Y.E. Yangs family on the island of Jeju stayed up all night to watch the South Korean face off against world No. 1 Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship.
 
Yang, ranked 110th, made history Sunday by coming from behind to beat Woods and become the first Asian-born man to win a major tournament ' a stunning rise for the self-taught son of a farmer who first picked up a golf club at age 19.
 
I am so happy and proud of him. What else can I feel? elder brother Yang Yong-hyuk said Monday. Since he has finally reached the peak, I hope that he will work even harder to become better and defend his position.
 
Yang, 37, is known as Son of the Wind in his native South Korea for his consistency even on windy days. Now he deserves a new name, the Korea Professional Golfers Association said: Tiger Killer.
 
Though relatively unknown on the international circuit, Yang was named Rookie of the Year after going pro in 1996 and has twice beaten Woods ' but never on such a big stage.
 
Seeing Yang, ranked 110th in the world, win against Tiger Woods, the best player in the world, I felt so proud to be a Korean today, Kim Soo-mi, who like many South Koreans woke up at 4 a.m. to watch the final round, said at an indoor driving range outside Seoul.
 
Its great! And as the first South Korean ' and as the first Asian man to win a major ' I expect this will have a positive influence on mens professional golf in South Korea, said Lee Sang-hun, 44, a Seoul businessman catching a flight to Jeju who said he woke up early to watch Yang play but hadnt expected him to win.
 
Golf is huge in South Korea, which in recent years has produced a number of top female players. But the top ranks had until now evaded Asias men.
 
Even South Koreas president, Lee Myung-bak, watched the tournament live on TV. He later phoned Yang to offer his congratulations.
 
I woke up at dawn today to watch the broadcast, and you played in a calm manner, Lee told Yang, according to the presidents office. First of all, you enhanced our peoples morale by winning the major title for the first time as an Asian.
 
Lee also praised Yang for persevering despite personal difficulties, calling his win a come-from-behind victory that was all the more valuable because of his life story, his office said.
 
Yang, whose full name is Yang Yong-eun, calls himself an average Joe from a humble farming family who aspired to be a bodybuilder and once dreamed of owning his own gym. But a knee injury forced him to reconsider his athletic career, and at 19 he took a job collecting golf balls at a local driving range to make money.
 
After the last golfers left, Yang stayed late into the night at a training field, practicing his swing, said Kim Young-chan, executive director of the driving range at the Ora Country Club on Jeju, a tropical island popular among honeymooners and golfers. He recalled Yang as a late bloomer but a hard worker.
 
Banners at the country club read: Congratulations to Yang Yong-eun for become the first Asian male to win the PGA Championship!
 
After the guests left the driving range, he practiced late into the night, Kim said, calling Yangs diligence a testament to how hard he worked to learn the game at such a late stage. He certainly stood out from the rest of the students.
 
Hooked, Yang eventually went pro, winning his first title in 2002.
 
His father, Yang Han-joon, said Monday that he tried to pressure his son to join him in the fields.
 
I had no idea what golf was ' thats why I was opposed to golf, he told The Associated Press at his home in a Jeju farming village.
 
But he said Yang was determined to succeed at golf and to leave their life of poverty behind, insisting I wont live like my father.
 
Golf coach Kim Won-jun, 43, said Yangs nerves of steel set him apart from other players.
 
I personally know Yang and what distinguishes him from other players is his emotional stability, he said. He is in total control during his game so when he has the chance, hes able to immediately seize it.
 
Unlike other players, Yang is not intimidated by Woods, said Shane Hahm, who covers sports for Seoul radio station TBS eFM.
 
Yang is not fazed by all the media and all the size of the gallery that follows Tiger ' thats really what gets into other players heads, he said.
 
Still, this win will have historic impact, Hahm said.
 
For the first Asian-born player to win, its pretty historically significant, he said. Its just unbelievable the way he did it, too, by beating the No. 1 player in the world.
 
Suh Gee-young, who woke up early to watch the tournament and take a few practice swings before work, called Yang an inspiration to other Asian-born players seeking to make it big.
 
I think Yangs victory will give young Asian players a confidence that they can beat the odds in any situation, he said.
 
Lee Jong-hoon, 33, said chatter about Yangs victory filled the halls of the Seoul hospital where he is a physician.
 
Im a fan of Yang because he overcame many obstacles to become a golfer, he said. I think what makes his victory especially meaningful is not only the fact that hes Asian but also the fact that he was a true underdog.
 
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    Phil's apology could have quashed incident days ago

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 7:50 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Better late than never.

    Phil Mickelson’s mea culpa came five days after he turned the U.S. Open upside down. It came after an attempt to rationalize his mind-boggling efforts on the 13th green only made things worse, and four days after he opted to show up for the final round at Shinnecock Hills but declined comment on the imbroglio that nearly overshadowed Brooks Koepka’s successful title defense.

    But finally, from behind a keyboard rather than in front of a microphone, he lent clarity to one of the strangest moments of a decorated career.

    “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

    It’s a statement that will hopefully serve as a coda to a controversy that bled into the first few days of the Travelers Championship. It’s also one that several players at TPC River Highlands believe Mickelson would have been well-served to issue in the immediate aftermath rather than attempting to inject intent into a momentary lapse.

    “The problem was when he started to justify it,” said Graeme McDowell. “People were like, ‘Oh, did he kind of maybe try to do that on purpose?’ And then all of a sudden the integrity of the game starts coming into question. When if he’d have just said, ‘I lost my mind for a second. I can’t believe I just did that. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done on a golf course. Sorry, guys.’ If he’d have said that right away, it would have been over, finished, the end. And then no DQ comments would have come into it.”

    Mickelson has spent the past 25 years staying one step ahead, be it with his comments to the media or his actions on and off the course. The man shows up to the Masters in a button-down shirt and elicits guffaws; the laughs died down the next month when Lefty revealed that he had taken an equity interest in the company and was quite literally benefiting from the attention his wardrobe choices had received.

    But after being bludgeoned by a borderline setup on his 48th birthday, Mickelson appeared to have finally fallen victim to a fleeting moment of frustration. Not a premeditated attempt to save a shot, or to avoid further embarrassment ping-ponging across a crusty green. Simply a man driven to his breaking point for all the world to see.


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    “As a player that’s been in that head space at that tournament, I can see it happening to people,” said Rory McIlroy. “Look, it’s a tournament that Phil has come so close to winning over the past few years. He’s probably seen what’s happened over the past few years at that tournament, and it’s frustrated him because it’s the only one that he hasn’t won. Plus, it’s probably becoming the hardest one to win for anyone because it is a bit of a lottery at times.”

    Mickelson remains a man of the people, a flawed hero who goes for broke even after that mindset cost himself more than a couple tournaments. It’s a relatable and charismatic trait, one that helps weekend hackers stuck behind a tree feel a connection to a man who once turned a similar situation into a green jacket.

    And having accrued more than two decades of positive equity by forging a path that other players don’t dare to take, Mickelson had more than enough margin for error to fess up after the putt-slap and avoid being pilloried.

    But just as the cover-up is often worse than the crime, so too Mickelson’s decision to spin his actions Saturday afternoon – combined with his calculated decision to offer no further explanation after returning for the final round – only threw gas on the fire.

    “It was very interesting. I didn’t understand it, and the USGA obviously didn’t understand what was all going on,” said Patrick Reed. “Phil, I don’t even really think he understood what was all transpiring at the moment.”

    “I honestly think that he just tried to come up with a story to make it go away, and inadvertently caused the opposite reaction,” added McDowell.

    Player opinion remains divided on several aspects of the Mickelson situation, and there are still those who believe Mickelson should have been disqualified for his actions, regardless of his intent or lack thereof. But the topic most players agreed on was that this situation won’t tarnish Mickelson’s overall legacy.

    Eventually, the news will cycle out and Mickelson will continue his quest for a sixth major title without being dogged by a regrettable moment when he essentially channeled the impulse of a 10-handicap looking to escape to the next tee.

    Even though questions will linger when he tees it up next at The Greenbrier, and likely again when the international press gathers at The Open, Mickelson will be well-served to have finally taken some ownership of a poor choice in the heat of the moment, rather than to attempt to explain it away as a calculated move.

    It’s a tactic that likely would have proven even more beneficial under the heat of the spotlight at Shinnecock Hills. But better late than never.

    “Why he tried to justify it, I’ll never know. Maybe he thought it was the right thing to do at the time,” McDowell said. “But I think as a golfer, we all understand the frustration, and just the mental lapse he had in that second when he did it.

    “It was just Phil being Phil. Trying to apply science to madness.”

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    A plan to avoid U.S. Open setup snafus

    By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2018, 3:39 pm

    It happened again.

    It was an inexplicable turn of events after a decade and a half of vehement assurances that this U.S. Open would be different. In the months leading up to the 118th championship, USGA CEO Mike Davis explained that this time the technology was better and many contended that the association was better.

    In 2004, the last time the U.S. Open traveled to the East End of Long Island things didn’t go well, with Shinnecock Hills’ greens going dark and dusty for a final round Davis called a “double bogey” for the association.

    To be fair, last week’s sequel wasn’t that extreme - let’s call it a bogey - but it was no less baffling.

    “It’s more the course, about how they set it up. Because Saturday was a total, it was like two different golf courses, practically, on the greens Saturday versus Sunday,” Jason Day said of last week’s U.S. Open. “I just wish they would leave it alone and just let it go. Not saying to let the greens go and let them dry out and make it unfair, I’m just saying plan accordingly and hopefully whatever the score finishes, it finishes, whether it’s under par or over par.”

    There will be those who contend that Day and Co. - Ian Poulter was also a harsh critic - should simply toughen up, that demanding conditions are the price that must be paid if you want to win the U.S. Open. But that ignores the facts and the USGA’s own assessment.

    “There were some aspects today where well-executed shots were not rewarded. We missed it with the wind,” Davis said on Saturday. “We don’t want that. The firmness was OK but it was too much with the wind we had. It was probably too tough this afternoon – a tale of two courses.”



    The USGA missed it, again.

    Perhaps this is the cost of wanting to play a golf course on the razor’s edge, where just a few warm gusts define the line between demanding but fair and over the top. Or maybe this is an issue of continuity.

    Every year the R&A holds a championship and nearly every year we spend the days afterward celebrating a champion, not complaining about an unfair course or an incorrect weather forecast.

    There are philosophical differences between the USGA and R&A when it comes to golf course setup, with our transatlantic friends wired to accept relatively easier conditions if the wind doesn’t blow. But maybe the R&A gets it right more often than not because each year they deal with a known quantity.

    There are currently nine courses (assuming Turnberry returns to the fold some day) in the Open Championship rotation. The R&A will add Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which last hosted the championship in 1951, to that rotation next year, .

    Perhaps the R&A has been able to avoid the kind of setup snafus that have plagued the USGA in recent years (let’s not forget the substandard greens at Chambers Bay in 2015 or the last-minute landscaping in ’17 at Erin Hills) because they know, through decades of trial and error, what happens at Royal Troon when the winds gust from the North and what hole locations should never be used on the Old Course at St. Andrews.

    Similarly, the folks who run the Masters regularly get it right. They get everything right, from course setup to parking regardless of inclement weather or extreme conditions, because they’ve had eight decades to figure it out.

    Only the PGA Championship travels like the U.S. Open, but then the PGA of America’s setup philosophy is more in line with that of normal PGA Tour events, with officials regularly erring on the side of the player, not some notion that par must be protected.

    Maybe there’s nothing wrong with the U.S. Open that a more standardized rotation couldn’t cure. If, for example, the USGA were to follow the R&A’s lead and set a dance card of eight to 10 regular stops for the national championship they could create the kind of continuity and institutional knowledge that seems to work so well at the Open Championship.

    What if Shinnecock Hills, which is among the best venues for the U.S. Open regardless of the setup miscues of ’04 and ’18, hosted the championship every decade? Officials would have a chance to better understand what works and what doesn’t, from golf course setup to traffic (which was just as bad as some of Saturday’s hole locations).

    Pick your regulars, from Pebble Beach to Pinehurst, Winged Foot to Torrey Pines, create a rotation and learn whatever it takes to get it right once and for all.

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    Mickelson: 'Not my finest moment ... 'I'm sorry'

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 2:41 pm

    Days after his putter swipe ignited a controversy that threatened to overshadow the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson offered an apology.

    Mickelson received a two-shot penalty for purposely hitting his ball while it was still in motion on the 13th green during the third round at Shinnecock Hills. In the eyes of the USGA, his actions fell short of a disqualification for a “serious breach” of the rules, and the 48-year-old ultimately matched his age with a T-48 finish after returning to play the final round.

    Mickelson declined to speak to reporters after a Sunday 66, but Wednesday he sent a note to a select group of media members that included Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte in which the five-time major champ offered some contrition.

    “I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down. My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend,” Mickelson wrote. “I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”

    Mickelson’s actions drew ire from both media members and his fellow competitors, with members of both groups implying that his actions merited disqualification. His most recent remarks seem to indicate that the decision to run up and stop his ball from tumbling back across the 13th green was more of an impulse than the calculated use of the rule book he described after the third round at Shinnecock.

    “It’s certainly not meant (to show disrespect). It’s meant to take advantage of the rules as best you can,” Mickelson said Saturday. “In that situation I was just, I was just going back and forth. I’ll gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

    Mickelson is not in the field this week at the Travelers Championship and is expected to make his next start in two weeks at The Greenbrier.

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    Hubert Green, Hall of Famer, dies at 71

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 20, 2018, 2:06 pm

    Hubert Green, a World Golf Hall of Famer who won 19 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1977 U.S. Open and 1985 PGA Championship, died Tuesday from complications following a lengthy battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

    A remarkably consistent player, Green used his distinctive swing to finish in the top 25 in a third of the PGA Tour events he entered. He also played on three Ryder Cup teams (1977, 1979, and 1985) and was undefeated in singles play.

    A native of Birmingham, Ala., Green graduated from Florida State University in 1968. While at FSU, he won the Cape Coral Intercollegiate tournament by eight strokes and the Miami Invitational, the nation’s largest collegiate tournament, by five strokes. He turned pro in 1969, earned his Tour card in 1970 and was named PGA Rookie of the Year in 1971.

    Green's first PGA Tour win was the 1971 Houston Champions International, in which he beat Don January in a playoff. Between 1973 and 1976 he won 10 more times, including a three-week stretch in 1976 when he won at Doral, Jacksonville and Hilton Head.

    Green won the 1977 U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla., despite being informed of a death threat against him that had been anonymously telephoned to the course. He received the news after putting out on the 14th hole of the final round. He decided to keep playing, and wound up winning  by one stroke over Lou Graham.

    “Hubert Green was in incredible competitor whose tenacity on the course defined his playing career," USGA CEO Mike Davis said in a statement. "His 1977 U.S. Open win under extreme circumstances was the definition of grit and perseverance – the true mark of a champion.  We are saddened to lose him among an elite group within our U.S. Open circle.  We extend our deepest condolences to his family as we celebrate his incredible accomplishments today.”

    A seldom-remembered fact about Green: he finished third behind Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in their 1977 "Duel in the Sun" Open Championship at Turnberry. He was 11 strokes behind winner Watson.

    Green won his second major championship in 1985, taking the PGA Championship at Cherry Hills. By a margin of two strokes, he denied Lee Trevino's bid to win back-to-back PGAs. It would be Green's last win on the PGA Tour. Afterward, Trevino praised his opponent, saying “He’s a great sand player and probably the best chipper we’ve got. Every time he got into trouble, he chipped it close to the hole.”

    “The PGA of America is deeply saddened by the passing of Hubert Green, who epitomized what it is to be a champion within the boundaries of a golf course and then extend that spirit to bravely face all of life’s challenges," Suzy Whaley, PGA vice president, said in a statement. "For more than 40 years, Hubert was a celebrated member of the PGA family. His joy in playing golf spread to giving back to others and setting a standard of what it means to cherish life’s daily blessings. Hubert said that he never judged his career against others. ‘I was just playing golf.’  If we can draw from Hubert Green’s example, we all will have a life well played.”   

    Green joined what is now known as the PGA Tour Champions in 1997 and went on to win four times, the first win coming in 1998 in his hometown of Birmingham.

    Green was also involved in golf course design, including courses such as TPC Southwind,  Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga.; and Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham.

    Green was diagnosed with stage-four throat cancer in 2003. Treated with chemotherapy and radiation, he continued playing golf. In 2005, he was named the Champions Tour's Comeback Player of the Year. He also received the Ben Hogan Award at the Masters that year. In 2007 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

    Jack Peter, president of the World Golf Hall of Fame, issued a statement reacting to the deaths of both Green a five-time Open champion Peter Thomson:

    “It is with great sadness that we report that two of our beloved Hall of Famers, Peter Thomson and Hubert Green, passed away yesterday. 

    "Peter was inducted in 1988, and was a true titan of the game. A five-time winner of the Open Championship, he was a favorite son of Australia, and respected around the world not just for his accomplishments on the course, but for the way he carried himself off the course as well. ... Hubert was inducted here in St. Augustine in 2007, and was a dominant force on the PGA Tour in the 1970s and early '80s. ... We will forever remember both Peter and Hubert within the World Golf Hall of Fame.”

    Green is also remembered for his philanthropic efforts. Over the years he participated in hundreds of charity tournaments and community fund-raising events that supported a wide range of causes including childhood cancer, united cerebral palsy, and other illnesses.

    Green is survived by his wife, Becky Blair, of Birmingham; three sons, Hubert Myatt Green Jr. of Hurricane, Utah; Patrick Myatt Green; and James Thomas Green (Adrienne) of Panama City, Fla.; sisters Melinda Green Powers and Carolyn Green Satterfield and brother Maurice O. V. Green, all of Birmingham, step-sons Richard O’Brien of New Orleans and Atticus O’Brien of Dallas, Texas, and several grandchildren.

    A memorial service is being planned at Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, and details are pending. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Highlands United Methodist Church Community Ministry or to a charity of your choice.