Thank you Y.E. Yang. I say again, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you dearly. You have altered the genetics of the PGA major championship final round, a feat nearly as difficult as mapping the human genome. For years the PGA fan base has tuned in to the final round, only to find Tiger with a lead that he stubbornly refused to relinquish, much like a sugar-fueled child dearly grasping his or her last Snickers.
But all of that has changed with a two-under round of golf from the 110th-ranked golfer in the world. How far of the stretch is this? Appalachian State-Michigan ring any bells? Remember when George Mason made that Final Four run?
Yeah, it’s that big of a deal. Had I bet twenty dollars on Y.E. Yang at the beginning of the week, my college loans would be covered with enough leftover to buy a big screen TV for my dog so he can watch The Real Desperate Housewives (I swear he got it from my ex-girlfriend). What would a twenty dollar bet on Tiger have won me? Not even twenty dollars.
What does this show us? Tiger can no longer be untamed. This much couldn’t be said over a year ago, when a one-legged Tiger beat Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff on a Torrey Pines course that played harder than any golf course I’ve ever seen. That’s the equivalent of Buster Douglas knocking out Tyson…with only one arm. This guy has more talent than anyone, ever.
But he can be taken down.
Now let’s keep in mind, Yang isn’t even the guy anyone gave a chance to surmount Tiger’s lead on Sunday. The back-to-back defending champion Padraig Harrington was still in the hunt, but hoping not to blow it by skipping a chip off the green and into the water, like he did exactly one week beforehand. Fortunately he managed to avoid skipping his shot off the green, but unfortunately for him, he just went straight into the water.
I’m not exactly what you call decent at golf, or even bad, for that matter. If I ever bothered to keep score, I’d have a handicap near triple digits. But I’ve never hit a shot like that.
And how much fun was it to watch Y.E. Yang just go out there and play? He wasn’t going out there and doing work. He was having fun, a la Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines, sans the results. I don't know which was flashier, his bright white pants or dazzling pearly whites. He couldn't stop smiling. Yang would miss a birdie putt, but just line up his par with a big smile on his face, likely knowing good and well, “I’m missing my birdies…and still tied with Tiger.” As Yang exuberantly celebrated on the eighteenth green, even Tiger had a grin on his face.
What did we learn from this weekend? Tiger can blow a lead. Anyone can go against him on a given day and take him down. Y.E. Yang (who is now tied for second for Tour wins this season) may be around for the next couple of years to fill that hope held by the Asian media market (largest in the world), a feat many before him could not accomplish. And finally, I need to get one of those hybrid 3-irons.
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