Tiger barely looked up and Steve Williams walked away as Y.E. Yang’s birdie putt rolled into the center of the cup on 18 Sunday to give him a 3 shot win over the best player in the world. Yang did the impossible at the PGA Championship – he faced down Tiger Woods face to face in a major championship with Tiger holding a 2 shot 54 hole lead and beat him by 3.
Tiger had never lost a major after holding the 54 hole lead. Maybe Y.E. Yang didn’t know this, or maybe he didn’t care. Tiger didn’t have his A game, but he had won majors before when not playing his best. I, like many others on Sunday, were waiting for Tiger to come alive with a long putt or another 178 yard eight iron to 4 inches to seize control of the tournament. Instead, Yang seized control on 14 with a chip in for eagle and never looked back.
Tiger seemed flustered and out of sorts. His distance control was off and he hit many good putts, but they just didn’t want to fall. Yang played solid golf and smiled and waved at fans and the camera all the way. His second shot on 16 stayed out of the hazard, and he managed to dodge a bullet on 17 when his first putt came up woefully short. Fortunately, Tiger couldn’t muster a par either after hitting a flush iron shot that bounded over the green.
Y.E’s second shot on 18 will be in the highlight reels for some time. His three hybrid shot that almost went in from 210 yards will rank right up there with Shaun Micheel’s seven iron in 2003. What will make Yang’s more important is who was watching from the other side of the fairway when he hit it.
I have seen the unbeatable superstar fall before, and things seem to change once it happens. For two or three years, Roger Federer was untouchable until Rafael Nadal took him out at Wimbledon. Then Novak Djokovic beat him a few times, then Andy Murray, and people started thinking they could beat him. He’s still the best player in tennis and will go down as the best player of all time, but he’s no longer the unbeatable force he once was. I predict the same may now happen in golf.
Y.E. Yang has show the golf world that Tiger Woods can be beaten head to head in a major. For those of us who are fans of the game, we were waiting for someone that could stare him in the eye and say “Tiger, I’m going to take you down!” Harrington came close last week, and others like Bob May have given him scares, but no one had pulled it off until Sunday. Maybe now the rest of the golf world will start believing they can beat him too.
As Frank Nobilo asked on the Golf Channel’s post game show: “Where does Tiger go from here?” I think Tiger will use this loss as motivation for next year. A few months ago we didn’t expect much from Tiger coming off knee surgery. All of a sudden he wins, then wins again, and again, and overnight he’s the old Tiger again and we expect miracles from him. Where as the rest of the PGA Tour stars may start the believe he can now be beaten, Tiger may also take his game to a level we have yet to see from him…
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