Yang upstages world No.1

2009-08-18 00:00

HAZELTINE (Minnesota) — Korean Y.E. Yang produced one of the biggest surprises in golfing history on Sunday as he upstaged world number one Tiger Woods to win the 91st U.S. PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.

The 37-year-old produced a nerveless two-under-par 70 in his final round to finish on eight-under-par and claim his first Major, ending three shots clear of world number one Woods, who could only manage a three-over-par 75.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a crazy party [in Korea], especially for my friends,” Yang said. “[The significance] will probably come to me when I go back home or see them on the Internet.”

Yang said he may have looked calm, but on the inside his heart was pumping overtime.

“It’s good that I did not look too nervous. I have tried throughout my career to do a good job in keeping my emotions. I think it turned out pretty well today,” he said. Woods had begun the final round with a two-stroke lead and had never lost a Major having led or held a tie for the lead, but he was found wanting as Yang produced a superb 18 holes.

Two bogeys on the front nine dropped Woods back to six-under-par and when Yang chipped in from the bunker at the short-par four 14th hole, he moved ahead by one stroke.

The Korean bogeyed the 17th hole, but so did Woods, and with the American off the green in two, Yang birdied the final hole to clinch the biggest victory of his career.

Woods said his score of 75 was misleading.

“I hit the ball so much better than obviously my score indicates,” he said. “I hit it great all day. I made absolutely nothing. I just have to say terrible day on the greens.

“And I had it at the wrong time. I either misread the putt or had bad putts. I didn’t make anything except for the 14th hole. I think it was the only putt I made all day. I had plenty of looks.

“I was certainly in control of the tournament for most of the day, but just didn’t make anything today. I hit the ball great off the tee, hit my irons well. I did everything I needed to do except for getting the ball in the hole.”

Woods found time to praise the effort of Yang, who coped superbly with the pressure that comes with playing alongside the world number one, especially in the final round of a Major.

“If you look at him as a player overall, he’s always been a wonderful ball-striker,” Woods said. “I think the only thing that’s really held him back was the flat stick.

“Today he went out there and executed his game plan. He was driving the ball beautifully, hitting his irons in the correct spots. He didn’t really make a lot of putts except for a couple of par putts here and there.

“He did all the things he needed to do at the right time and just had that one hiccup there at 17. But other than that, you look at his round, I think he played beautifully.”

Englishman Lee Westwood finished tied for third with young Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy on three-under-par, while U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover was a shot back on two-under-par.

Padraig Harrington, who began the final round tied with Yang just two shots behind Woods, reached seven-under-par early on only to suffer a nightmare quintuple-bogey eight at the par-three eighth hole.

The defending champion finished on level-par after a 78, leaving him in a tie for 10th place.

“Obviously it was a disappointment for me,” Harrington said. “I felt I hit the shots all day. I hardly got out of position at all bar the one hole.

“These things happen. The positive is I was very comfortable out there and I know that my game is going to get better.”

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