Y.E. Yang of South Korea, not even ranked in the world top 100, today became the first Asian golfer to win a major championship, and he did it by staring Tiger Woods down. He is the winner of the PGA Championship and will instantly become a hero all over Asia, where they are already mad about golf. It was the first time since just after Tiger turned pro that he relinquished a 54-hole lead (golf tournaments are 72 holes unless there’s a tie). Mr. Yang kept his cool, tagged ball after ball straight down the fairway, and chipped in from off the green on a hole where it really counted.
Golf is very cruel, and there were at least seven Tiger putts that just barely missed; if only half of them had dropped, it wouldn’t even have been close. Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Tiger’s #1 rival right about now, had a disastrous quintuple bogey (that’s five over par!) on one hole. Yet through it all, Mr. Yang (who took up the game at age 19: Tiger took it up at maybe 19 months) had a fabulous time, smiling and mugging for the CBS cameras and then nailing golf shot after golf shot. For him, this was fun, and I think that’s a worthy attribute in a champion of what is, after all, nothing but a game. Congratulations, Mr. Yang, and please come back on future Sunday afternoons!