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Yang becomes first Asian major champion

CHASKA, August 17 – South Korea's Yang Yong-Eun became the first Asian to capture a major championship Sunday, doing the unthinkable by rallying past Tiger Woods for one of the biggest upsets in golf history.YANG_YONG_247768697.jpgThe 37-year-old fired a two-under par 70 to win the 91st PGA Championship by three strokes over the world number one, snapping Woods’s perfect 14-0 record when leading a major tournament after 54 holes.

The 110th-ranked Asian dynamo went into the final round a heavy underdog as he had only one US PGA victory to 70 career wins and 14 major titles for Woods.

"It will be a crazy party tonight for my friends," Yang said. "I knew the odds were against me. I just tried to be the least nervous I have ever been."

There is a long list of challengers and would-be major champions who have wilted under Woods’s final-round glare but Yang would not go away without a fight at Hazeltine National Golf Club, the longest course in major history.

"It wasn’t as nerve wracking as I thought it might be," Yang said. "When I saw the pairings the night before I was really happy to be in the final group of a major. My heart was pounding and nearly exploded.

"I had a rough night but as soon as I got to the first tee I became myself. It is what I have always sort of envisioned."

Yang, who didn’t take up golf until age 19, spoiled Woods’s bid to win the PGA for a record-tying fifth time. Yang finished 72 holes on eight-under par 280.

Woods, who went into the day with a two-shot lead, shot a three-over 75 to reach five-under 283 for the tournament.

"He played beautifully," Woods said of Yang. "He did the things he needed to do. He was driving the ball in play, hitting the ball in the correct parts of the green.

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"I was certainly in control of the tournament for most of the day. I just didn’t make the putts I needed to make."

England’s Lee Westwood and rising star Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tied for third, five shots back of Yang and one ahead of US Open champion Lucas Glover.

Yang set the stage for the birdie on 18 with a brilliant 202-yard approach shot that sailed over a tree and rolled onto the green.

"I thought if I aim true and make a good shot that I have a good chance to seal the deal," Yang said. "I knew Tiger could always have a bad day so I guess this was that day."

Yang, who earned 1.35 million dollars in prize money, clinched the win with a six-foot birdie putt at the 18th. He then celebrated by hoisting his golf bag in the air with both hands before taking possession of the Wanamaker Trophy.

"It sure is a great day," Yang said. "It hasn’t completely sunk in but I realize the significance of it."

He not only becomes the first Asian to win a major, he also bettered the previous best performance by a South Korean. His compatriot K.J. Choi was third in the 2004 Masters tournament.

The win beats the top prior major peformances by an Asian of Taiwan’s Huan Lu-Liang, who finished runner-up in the 1971 British Open, and Japan’s Isao Aoki, who placed second in the 1980 US Open. Taiwan’s Chen Tze-Chung also tied for second at the 1985 US Open.

"You knew it was just a matter of time before an Asian-born player was going to win," Woods said. "We had a lot of great players over the years starting with Jumbo (Masashi Ozaki) and Isao (Aoki) has come close."

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Yang’s round included 13 pars, two birdies, two bogeys and chip in for eagle on 14 to take the lead.

Woods was seeking his first major win of the season after missing the cut in the British Open and sharing sixth at the Masters and US Open. He did not play in last year’s PGA because he was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

Yang took the lead for the first time on 14 to reach eight-under. Yang made his lengthy chip in and Woods answered by rolling in a 12-foot putt for birdie to stay one back of Yang as the two slugged it out down the stretch.

Woods parred the first three holes of the round before making the first of his five bogeys for the second-straight day on the par-three fourth hole and then doing it again on No. 8.

Woods three-putted No. 4, missing a routine four-footer to the right side of the hole.

"I just didn’t make the putts when I needed to," Woods said. "I had a few misreads out there."



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