That’s a bit like Manny Pacquiao knocking out Muhammad Ali in the 15th round. Yang took out the man who had never lost the lead of a major going into the final round and he did it in style.
Yang’s big punch at the PGA Championship came when he holed his chip shot for eagle on the 14th hole. Legend has it that his caddie, a Chicago boy who doesn’t have much Korean, says: “Nice shot Mr Yang.” Y E then replies: “Thank you, Mr Bean,” because he thinks his bagman looks like Rowan Atkinson. ‘Nice’ didn’t quite cut it on Sunday.
Tiger stared and then holed his putt for birdie. He wasn’t going away, but then neither was Yang. We have seen him do this sort of thing before. Earlier this year Yang won the Honda Classic from the front. He said then that he needed to shoot two under in the final round to win, and he went out and did it.
After he won in Florida, Yang said the last four holes were longer than his entire career. Imagine how he must have felt over Hazeltine’s closing stretch with Tiger for company. It must have been like living eternity on the razor’s edge.
We wondered on the 17th green if Yang was going to be cut by the razor just when he was so close. He had two putts to take a two stroke lead up the final hole and his dough-handed first effort came up eight feet short. He missed that, but his rescue club into the final green was a stroke of pure joy. Nice shot, Mr Yang.
Goodness knows what effect his win will have on Asian golf. We have been waiting for this for almost 40 years, ever since Mr Lu nearly won the Open. Surely the International Olympic Committee membership must now endorse golf’s inclusion in the Olympics. Asia could become the golfing capital of the world if the equipment and ranges are made available to the kids who want to follow Mr Yang.
Over the closing two holes Tiger was dependent on the other man’s mistakes to have a chance and no champion likes to put himself in that position. This was Tiger’s missing major. He made more mistakes in the final round of this one than in the previous 14 wins put together.
All day Tiger was out with his distance control and he couldn’t buy a putt. That is the area of Tiger’s game that no longer walks the centre line of inevitability. This is the first time that he has lost a major from the front and the others may no longer believe that he is invincible.
Great as he is Woods will be back, but what about the Europeans? Eight of them had top-10 finishes here, the sort of statistic that would have been unthinkable for most of the previous century. But in truth none of them contended over the final nine holes.
Padraig Harrington’s challenge ended amidst a flurry of shots that would not have been out of place in the Sunday hacker’s handicap challenge. A shot behind the leader when he came to the par-three eighth hole Harrington walked into what is known as a snowman in golf – a quintuple bogey eight.
Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood were the highest home finishers, their closing rounds of 70 earning a tie for third. Their day will surely come, but Sunday belonged to Mr Yang.
The South Korean finished with a birdie and stepped off the razor’s edge into eternity.