x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Yang shocks Woods at Hazeltine

YE Yang savoured his first moments as US PGA champion after defeating Tiger Woods to become the first Asian winner of a major.

YE Yang overhauled Tiger Woods' two-shot lead on the final day at Hazeltine yesterday.
YE Yang overhauled Tiger Woods' two-shot lead on the final day at Hazeltine yesterday.

YE Yang savoured his first moments as a major champion after defeating Tiger Woods and admitted he had been mentally preparing for a final round with the world No 1 for a long time. South Korean Yang, 37, shocked the golfing world as he won the US PGA Championship at Hazeltine National on Sunday by overhauling a two-shot lead held by Woods and beating the 14-time major winner by three shots. It made Yang the first Asian-born man to win a major championship and also made history because Woods had won all 14 of those majors having held or shared the 54-hole lead. Woods had also been unbeaten in the eight majors he had led after 36 holes, a statistic that led one bookmaker to pay out on the American before the start of the third round. Yet Yang defied history and the bookies' odds to land his first major with a momentous come-from-behind victory, that no other golfer had achieved in that situation at a major. "I've sort of visualised this quite a few times; playing against the best player in the history of golf, playing with him in the final round in a major championship. I have always sort of dreamed about this," Yang said. "I've seen throughout Tiger's career that a lot of players have folded probably on the last day when playing with him. "So when I was at home or at a tournament watching Tiger in the clubhouse, I'd usually try to visualise and try to bring up a mock strategy on how to win, if I ever played against Tiger. "But when the chance came, I thought 'hey, I could always play a good round of golf and Tiger could always have a bad day'. And I guess this was one of those days." Yang's victory began to seem a possibility with a chip-in from a bunker for eagle at the 14th hole. Having gone a shot in front there, Yang managed to hold his nerve as both he and Woods bogeyed the 17th. Yet having sent a brilliant shot in from the fringe of the 18th fairway to 10 feet from the hole, he still expected the worst when Woods found greenside rough. "I've seen through highlights while playing in the same tournaments that Tiger makes some miraculous shots and miraculous putts," Yang said. "I've seen it throughout his career, and I've admired him and respected him. "So on the 18th green, when he was making that chip shot, I was praying it wouldn't go in," he said with a laugh. Woods, gracious in victory, said 37-year-old Yang's victory was well deserved. "If you look at him as a player overall, he's always been a wonderful ball-striker and I think the only thing that's really held him back was the flat stick," Woods said. "And 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 but he was doing exactly what you have to do, especially in these conditions. "It was so blustery out there, nobody went low. I thought today if I shot under par I would win the tournament. And that would have been the number. "But it was just a tough day. He did things he needed to do. He was driving the ball in play, hitting the ball in the correct parts of the green and giving himself looks (at putts). "And he did all the things he needed to do at the right time and just had that one hiccup there at 17 (a bogey). Other than that, you look at his round, I think he played beautifully." * PA Sport