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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Y.E. Yang Makes History

Y.E. Yang's victory over Tiger today is one of the best things that could have happened to the game of golf.

I know you'll hear how Yang made history as the first Asian to win a major championship. Make sure you understand that he's the first Asian male to do so; Asian women have been winning majors for a decade or more, led by Se Ri Pak's amazing total of 5.

And make no mistake: This may be the biggest thing to hit the Asian golf scene ever. The ripples this victory will send through the world as a whole, especially in light of the coming decision over whether golf should be in the Olympics, may be equaled only by the positive financial repercussions for the game.

But the biggest gain for the game of golf is psychological. For the first time in history, someone paired with Tiger Woods has not only played well, has not only beaten him heads up, but has come from behind to do it. I see this as being similar to Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile: Regardless of what any player may say, no one really believed Tiger could be beaten this way. In the month after Bannister broke the barrier, another dozen people did the same. They didn't all suddenly get in shape; Bannister just convinced them that it could be done, and they finally did it.

But Bannister's the guy we remember, not them.

Some will say Tiger lost this tournament, that he just didn't putt well. I say Yang missed quite a few putts as well but, in the end, his 70 matched the low score of the day. As an old commercial might have said, Yang won it the old-fashioned way... he e-a-r-n-e-d it.

Now I don't expect guys to start beating Tiger every week. Tiger's still probably the best golf talent we've yet seen, and he won't just roll over and play dead because of this loss. But now the big names in golf have seen the big cat taken down in his own arena. Everybody has off days, even Tiger, and now those big names will realize that it can happen at any time... even during a major. This single win has the potential to rewrite golf competition the way Bannister rewrote track competition. Maybe we'll finally see a rival or two stand up and give Tiger a real fight for the majors.

That's just what golf―and Tiger―need right now

As for Y.E. Yang, he gets my award for Big Game Hunter of the Year. He bagged himself the biggest cat in the jungle, and he deserves all the accolades this win brings him. Congratulations, Y.E.!

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