May 2, 2024

Yang Yong-eun, as he is formally known, staged one of the greatest upsets in golf history when he overcame a two-shot deficit to beat four-time champion Tiger Woods by three shots at the PGA Championship.


Yang was the first Asian-born player to win a major


Yang was the first Asian-born player to win a majorCredit:

At the time, then 14-time major champion Woods had never lost a major while leading after 54 holes.


His record was 14-0.


Woods had also won three of his last four events heading into the tournament at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, and was in cruise control going into Sunday’s final round.


The script was already written.


Woods was supposed to lift the Wanamaker Trophy for a third time in four years.


But the then-world No.1 did not bank on coming up against a determined 37-year-old South Korean who was hellbent on winning his maiden major title.


Padraig Harrington, who was tied with Yang overnight, fell away early on Sunday when he quintuple bogied the par-3 8th.


A three man race to the finish quickly became a two man sprint.


Woods wilted under the pressure


Yang came up with clutch shot after clutch shot


Yang came up with clutch shot after clutch.

Woods and Yang continued to trade blows but it was the golfing GOAT who buckled under the pressure.


His two-stroke advantage quickly disappeared after registering two bogeys in his opening eight holes.


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Woods and Yang were locked on six under until the South Korean pulled off a Tiger-esque shot on the 14th.


He chipped in for eagle on the 352-yard par-4 to take the lead with four holes to play.


Tiger could have tied Yang on No. 15 with a 12-foot birdie putt but it agonisingly lipped out.


They traded pars over the next two holes and both bogeyed the par-three 17th to give Yang the lead by one on the final hole.


Any hope Woods had of overturning the deficit soon disappeared when Yang pulled off one of the PGA Championship’s greatest ever shots on his approach at the 18th.


Yang’s second shot, from just over 200 yards with a hybrid club, needed to clear a large bunker and miss a nearby tree.


It did just that, landing to within ten feet of the flag on the 72nd green and setting him up for birdie.


He was nicknamed ‘The Tiger Killer’ for taking down Woods in 2009

He was nicknamed ‘The Tiger Killer’ for taking down Woods in 2009Credit: AFP


It was his first and only Major

The usually all-conquering Woods was powerless to what was unfolding and hit his own second shot into the rough off the green.


He finished with a bogey while Yang sunk his birdie putt and fist pumped as he claimed his first major title.


It was the first major championship victory for an Asian-born player and he soon became known as ‘The Tiger Killer.’


Speaking about the origins of his nickname, Yang said: “When I won the 2006 HSBC Championship in Shanghai, Tiger, who was on an earlier flight, had finished with a good score. But I came in later and beat him to second place.


“Then at the 2009 PGA Championship, Tiger led by two shots going into the final round. But, playing in the same flight, I did not want to be intimidated by him and focused on my own game, and finally edged him to runner-up spot by three shots.”


He added: “Following those two trends, I was given the nickname.”


The 2009 PGA Championship marked the start of a ten-year barren spell for Woods at the majors which only ended with his victory at the 2019 Masters.


As for Yang, he rose to 19th in the world in 2010 but plummeted to 638th by the end of 2014 after a string of bad finishes and missed cuts.


He spent 2015 playing on the European Tour and Asian Tour and has one win on the Japan Golf Tour in 2018.


The 52-year-old’s major victory in 2009 has meant he’s qualified for future PGA Championships, although he’s failed to make the cut at the tournament since 2015.


In 2021, he was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard following the second round.


In 2022, Yang joined the PGA Tour Champions and is expected to make a return to the tournament that changed his life later this month.



The PGA Championship will return to Valhalla Golf Club in 2024 and takes place from May 13-19.


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