Monday, August 17, 2009
Down goes Tiger
When Tiger gave 2 strokes back and was tied up with Yang at the turn, all I was hoping for was some good play by Yang and for Tiger to have to actually win it with some great shots. It never seemed conceivable that Tiger could lose. Can you imagine Tiger losing a 54 hole lead in a major, especially to the guy he is playing with? A 2 stroke lead in the final group on Sunday paired with a no-namer spells game over.
Then the most clutch performer in our lifetime couldn't make a putt to save his life. It was like he came down with a case of the yips at the worst possible time. Tiger's frustration was palpable. While it is inevitable that Tiger will pass Jack's 18 major record, he didn't make any progress this season. Even though he won 5 tournaments, some in dramatic fashion, after returning from his knee surgery, Tiger will still see this year as a failure.
Yang had 2 shots that will forever be remembered as the ones that did Tiger in. A 50 foot chip-in eagle at No. 14 gave Yang a temporary 2 shot lead, until Tiger birdied the same hole to pull within 1. Yang was not intimidated. The only nervousness he showed was the horrible lag putt on 17 which earned him a bogey and cost him a 2 shot lead with 1 to play. But on the last hole, he unleashed a beautiful drive which setup arguably the most memorable shot in PGA Championship history. A ridiculous 210 yard 3 hybrid (Taylormade Rescue) over a tree to 8 feet on the 18th hole!?!? I love sports.
They made a big hullabaloo over the fact that Yang is the first Asian-born player to win a major. Uber-nationalistic South Korea is justifiably going crazy right now to celebrate. But make no mistake, he definitely isn't the first Asian to win it. Tiger is. As much as Americans love to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, Tiger is actually only 25% black and 50% Asian. His dad is 50% black, 25% Chinese (and 25% Native American). His mom is 50% Thai and 25% Chinese (and 25% Dutch). This makes Tiger 25% Chinese, 25 % Thai, 25% black (and 1/8 Dutch, 1/8 Native American). Obama lovers, get over it.
Amazingly, this is the first year Tiger hasn't won a major since 2004. He isn't the only one to be disappointed this year. I actually preferred the runner-ups to all 3 of the other majors this year. Kenny Perry bogeyed 17 and 18 to let his first major slip out of his grasp at the Masters. Mickelson also bogeyed twice down the stretch to lose the US Open he so desperately needs and Tom Watson bogeyed 18 and lost what would have been a miraculous British Open.
But so goes golf. Upsets are a big part of why we watch sports. It is still the greatest reality show on tv. YE Yang did the impossible and it will probably change the sport of golf on the global level forever. If not, at least it will sell more 3 hybrids in South Korea.