Yong-eun Yang of South Korea became the first Asian-born player to win a Major as he overtook Tiger Woods to capture the USPGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.
Yang, who began the final day two shots behind Tiger, had history against him as Woods had never lost in a Major when leading through 54 holes. But Yang wasn’t daunted – he’d beaten Woods before at the HSBC Champions of 2007.
The Korean caught the World Number-1 early on the front nine then took the lead with an eagle at the par-4 14th. The 37-year-old from Seoul, drove just short of the putting surface before chipping in for a two. Tiger responded with a birdie of his own but he couldn’t get back on level terms with Yang after that.
Yang showed great composure over the closing holes to stay ahead and, when he played one of the shots of the tournament into the final green, the job was done for the Korean. One stroke clear of Woods, Yang fired a hybrid club from the left rough that narrowly missed a tree and ended just feet from the cup. Woods’ approach missed the green and, when his chip missed the hole, Yang had two putts for the title. He needed just one and a despondent Tiger missed his par effort to finish three back.
“It’s good that I didn’t get too nervous,” said Yang. “I would like to thank my Korean fans as well as my American fans.”
Woods, who was going for a fifth USPGA title and a 15th Major victory was left to rue a series of missed opportunities on the greens. “I hit the ball so much better than my score indicates,” Woods said. “I hit it great all day. I made absolutely nothing. I just have to say it was a terrible day on the greens and I had it at the wrong time.”
Defending champion Padraig Harrington was in contention until making a disastrous eight at the par-3 8th hole. Just like last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, Harrington’s week was undone by a single hole. Finding the water off the tee, he then pulled his third shot from the drop-zone before pitching his fourth back into the water. He failed to get up-and-down with his next effort and a quintuple bogey went down on the card.
Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy were the leading European finishers in a tie for third place, five shots back from Yang. Both players completed excellent final rounds of 70, McIlroy’s was particularly impressive given the young Northern Irishman started his day with a double bogey. Lucas Glover was alone in fifth and Ernie Els tied with Martin Kaymer, Søren Kjeldsen and Henrik Stenson for sixth. Six Europeans finished inside the top-10.
Hazeltine National GC, Minnesota
Aug 13-16, purse €5,300,000, par 72
1 Yong-eun Yang (Kor) 73 70 67 70 280 €942,125
2 Tiger Woods (USA) 67 70 71 75 283 €565,275
T3 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 71 73 71 70 285 €303,574
T3 Lee Westwood (Eng) 70 72 73 70 285 €303,574
5 Lucas Glover (USA) 71 70 71 74 286 €209,361
T6 Ernie Els (RSA) 75 68 70 74 287 €162,691
T6 Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 70 71 73 287 €162,691
T6 Søren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 73 70 74 287 €162,691
T6 Henrik Stenson (Swe) 73 71 68 75 287 €162,691
T10 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 68 73 69 78 288 €105,123
T10 Dustin Johnson (USA) 72 73 73 70 288 €105,123
T10 Zach Johnson (USA) 74 73 70 71 288 €105,123
T10 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 70 75 71 72 288 €105,123
T10 John Merrick (USA) 72 72 74 70 288 €105,123
T10 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 74 73 69 72 288 €105,123
Player scores listed in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only