YE Yang beats Tiger Woods at PGA Championship

By Doug FergusonAugust 16, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' In a year of spoilers at the majors, Y.E. Yang was the biggest of all.
 
He toppled the mighty Tiger Woods.
 
Yang became the first Asian-born player to win a major Sunday with a stunning performance in the PGA Championship, memorable as much for his clutch shots as the player he beat.
 
Woods was 14-0 when he went into the final round of a major atop the leaderboard. He had not lost any tournament around the world in nine years when leading by two shots.
 
Y.E. Yang wins the PGA Championship
Y.E. Yang celebrates his win at the 91st PGA Championship. (Getty Images)
None of that mattered to Yang, a 37-year-old South Korean who hit the shots everyone expected from Woods. Leading by one on the final hole, Yang slew golfs giant with a hybrid 3-iron that cleared the bunker and settled 12 feet from the cup.
 
Yang made the birdie putt and shouted with joy as he pumped his fist. That gave him a 2-under 70, and a three-shot victory when Woods missed yet another short par putt and shot 75.
 
This might be my last win as a golfer, Yang said through an interpreter. But it sure is a great day.
 
His victory is massive for Asia, the fastest-growing market in golf. Perhaps even more significant is that the way he stood up to Woods, the worlds No. 1 player whose heritage is half-Asian through his Thai-born mother.
 
Yang and K.J. Choi are the only PGA Tour players who learned golf in South Korea before coming to America. South Koreans have had far more success on the LPGA, with seven players combining to win 11 majors.
 
His victory came four days after golf was recommended to become part of the Olympics in 2016.
 
For Woods, it was the second time he has finished runner-up in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine, both times to a surprise winner. Seven years ago, he birdied the last four holes and came up one short of Rich Beem.
 
This time, Woods made one mistake after another over the last four holes, mostly with his putter.
 
I did everything I needed to do, except for getting the ball in the hole, Woods said. Just didnt make the putts when I needed to make them.
 
Yang was No. 110 in the world, his only victory on the PGA Tour coming in March at the Honda Classic, on a course across the street from headquarters of the PGA of America. He was best known for holding off Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago.
 
This stage was far bigger and Yang was even better.
 
He took the lead for the first time all week by chipping in for eagle from about 20 yards short of the 14th green. And when it looked as though nerves were getting the best of him on a three-putt bogey at the 17th, he delivered his two most important shots.
 
Yang still had enough strength left to hoist his golf bag over his head, and later the 44-pound Wanamaker Trophy. After a long and tearful embrace with his wife, Young Ju Park, he walked across a bridge saluting thousands of fans who couldnt believe what they saw.
 
What a capper to this year in the majors.
 
Kenny Perry was poised to become the oldest Masters champion at 48 until Angel Cabrera beat him in a playoff. Phil Mickelson, reeling from his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer, was on the verge of finally winning the U.S. Open until Lucas Glover outplayed him over the final few holes. And just last month, 59-year-old Tom Watson was an 8-foot par putt away from winning the British Open, then lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
 
Woods losing a two-shot lead in the final round of a major? That was unthinkable ' until a breezy afternoon at Hazeltine.
 
I played well enough the entire week to win the championship, Woods said. You have to make putts. I didnt do that. Today was a day that didnt happen.
 
Yang finished at 8-under 280 and won $1.35 million, along with a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and the majors. That was important for a guy who had to go back to PGA Tour qualifying last December. The last player to go from Q-school to PGA champion was John Daly in 1991.
 
One more bonus: His victory put him on the International team for the Presidents Cup in October in San Francisco.
 
Asian-born players had come close in the majors ' Liang-Huan Lu of Taiwan finishing one shot behind Lee Trevino at the 1971 British Open, and T.C. Chen's famous two-chip gaffe that cost him a chance at the 1985 U.S. Open, where he was runner-up to Andy North.
 
This could be a big breakthrough for Asian players, especially with a World Golf Championship starting this year in China.
 
As for the PGA Championship, what remains is whether it will be remembered more for Yangs victory for Woods losing a 54-hole lead for the first time in a major.
 
He went out there and executed his game plan, Woods said. He was doing exactly what you have to do, especially in these conditions. I think he played beautifully.
 
This was a two-man race throughout the back nine, especially after defending champion Padraig Harrington imploded in the group ahead of them on the par-3 eighth. Harrington was one shot behind when he hit two shots in the water ' including a chip from behind the green, just like last week at Firestone ' and took a quintuple-bogey 8. He shot a 78.
 
Woods three-putted for bogey at No. 4 for the second straight day and made bogey from the bunker at No. 8, sending the final pairing to the back nine in a tie for the lead.
 
Woods regained the lead with a 3-wood on the 606-yard 11th hole onto the green, only to give it back with a bogey on the 12th after he hit a wild hook into the trees. He twice missed birdie putts inside 10 feet ' at No. 10 and No. 13 ' and then momentum shifted to Yang.
 
With the tees again moved forward to 301 yards, Yang came up just short. He watched Woods play a good bunker shot to 8 feet, then knocked it his chip.
 
Thats when I thought, I do have a chance, Yang said.
 
He was steady. Woods was sloppy.
 
Woods chunked a 3-wood trying to for the green in two at the 15th, then missed another 10-foot birdie putt to tie. Both bogeyed the 17th hole, Woods with a shot he thought was pure until it landed into thick rough over the green.
 
And on the 18th, Yang came up with the shot of his life. Even then, he had seen enough of Woods that he expected him to chip in for birdie on the final hole.
 
Tigers good, but he could always have a bad day, Yang said. Guess this is one of those days.
 
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    Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

    Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting a competitive shot was very much in doubt.

    Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show in which he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

    Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.

    "I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

    But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

    After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

    "What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing> Great on him, and great for golf."

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    McDowell needs Wyndham result to maintain status

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:56 pm

    For the first time in nearly three years, Graeme McDowell heads into an event with his PGA Tour status hanging in the balance.

    The Ulsterman joined the Tour in 2006, and he has had nearly uninterrupted status since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. But McDowell's two-season exemption for winning the 2015 OHL Classic at Mayakoba only extends through this week, where he will start the Wyndham Championship at No. 143 in the season-long points race.

    McDowell tied for fifth at Sedgefield Country Club in 2016, and he will likely need a similar result to crack the top 125 in the standings and retain his fully exempt status for the 2019 season. While he finished T-10 in Las Vegas in November, that remains his lone top-10 finish of the Tour season. The veteran's best results this year have come in Europe, where he tied for fifth at the Italian Open and finished T-12 at the BMW PGA Championship.


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    "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I feel like it's not a do-or-die scenario for me," McDowell told reporters earlier this month at the Barracuda Championship. "I feel if I was 25 years old without a European Tour card to fall back on, it would be a do-or-die scenario. Certainly trying to put the pressure off, if I don't get myself into the top 125 it's not the end of the world for me. I still feel like I can play a great schedule next season."

    By finishing Nos. 126-150 in points after this week, McDowell would retain conditional status that would likely ensure him at least 12-15 starts next season. He would also still have privileges as a past tournament champion.

    But he's not the only winner from the 2015-16 season whose two-year exemption is on the verge of running out. Fabian Gomez (160th), Peter Malnati (164th) and Billy Hurley III (202nd) all need big results in Greensboro to keep their cards, while Shane Lowry, David Lingmerth and Matt Every all earned three-year exemptions for victories in 2015 but currently sit Nos. 139, 140 and 184 in points, respectively.

    Last year four players moved into the top 125 thanks to strong play at Wyndham, with the biggest jump coming from Rory Sabbatini, who went from No. 148 to No. 122 after tying for fourth place.

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    Vogel Monday qualifies for eighth time this season

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:27 pm

    The PGA Tour's regular season ended with another tally for the Monday King.

    While Monday qualifiers are a notoriously difficult puzzle to solve, with dozens of decorated professionals vying for no more than four spots in a given tournament field, T.J. Vogel has turned them into his personal playground this season. That trend continued this week when he earned a spot into the season-ending Wyndham Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 and surviving a 4-for-3 playoff for the final spots.

    It marks Vogel's eighth successful Monday qualification this season, extending the unofficial record he set when he earned start No. 7 last month at The Greenbrier. Patrick Reed earned the nickname "Mr. Monday" when he successfully qualified six different times during the 2012 season before securing full-time status.

    There have been 24 different Monday qualifiers throughout the season, with Vogel impressively turning 19 qualifier starts into eight tournament appearances.

    Vogel started the year with only conditional Web.com Tour status, and explained at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May that he devised his summer schedule based on his belief that it's easier to Monday qualify for a PGA Tour event than a Web.com tournament.


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    "The courses that the PGA Tour sets the qualifiers up, they're more difficult and sometimes they're not a full field whereas the Web, since there's no pre-qualifier, you have two full fields for six spots each and the courses aren't as tough," Vogel said. "So I feel like if you take a look at the numbers, a lot of the Web qualifiers you have to shoot 8-under."

    Vogel has made three cuts in his previous seven starts this year, topping out with a T-16 finish at the Valspar Championship in March. The 27-year-old also played the weekend at the Nelson and the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut at The Greenbrier in addition to the RSM Classic, Honda Classic and FedEx St. Jude Classic.

    While Vogel won't have another Monday qualifier opportunity until October, he has a chance to secure some 2019 status this week in Greensboro. His 51 non-member FedExCup points would currently slot him 205th in the season-long race, 13 points behind Rod Pampling at No. 200. If Vogel earns enough points to reach the equivalent of No. 200 after this week, he'd clinch a spot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals where he would have a chance to compete for a full PGA Tour card for the 2018-19 season.

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    Woods adds BMW Championship to playoff schedule

    By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 5:01 pm

    Tiger Woods is adding a trip to Philadelphia to his growing playoff itinerary.

    Having already committed to both The Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, Woods' agent confirmed to GolfChannel.com that the 14-time major champ will also make an appearance next month at the BMW Championship. It will mark Woods' first start in the third leg of the FedExCup playoffs since 2013 when he tied for 11th at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago.

    This year the Sept. 6-9 event is shifting to Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa., which is hosting the BMW for the first time. The course previously hosted the Quicken Loans National in both 2010 and 2011. Woods won the BMW en route to FedExCup titles in both 2007 and 2009 when it was held at Cog Hill in Illinois.


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    Woods was already in good position to make the 70-man BMW field, but his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship vaulted him from 49th to 20th in the season-long points race and assured that he'll make it to Aronimink regardless of his performance in the first two postseason events.

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