NOBODY’S PERFECT. THAT CLICHÉ didn’t apply to Tiger Woods, who was a perfect 14 for 14 at closing out majors when he led after 54 holes. Until today at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
South Korean Y.E. Yang, a golfer who has won once on the PGA Tour and didn’t take up the game until he was 19, overtook Tiger in a nearly flawless performance at a gusty and crusty Hazeltine in the PGA Championship. Yang had 70 to Tiger’s 75 for a three-shot victory.
It was a historic win, as well as a great upset. Yang is the first Asian-born golfer to claim a men’s major championship.
I knew very little about Yang, but the strengths of his game were immediately obvious. He put his ball in play and hit a lot of quality approach shots. And Yang did it in the most pressurized situation in golf, a final-round pairing with Tiger at a major.
Tiger hit quality shots, too, as expected, but the putts didn’t drop. Many burned the edge. When the putts don’t fall, Tiger doesn’t win. It almost always comes down to the putter in majors.
Yang hit two magnificent shots that turned things in his favor and sealed the victory. The first was the chip-in for eagle on the par-4 14th hole. The second was even more incredible, a pin-seeking hybrid from the 18th fairway that put Yang within close range for a clinching birdie putt.
They were exactly the kind of shots we are used to seeing Tiger hit under the most intense pressure. But today wasn’t Tiger’s day. We have now crossed a new threshold in the Tiger era. He is perfect no more.
−The Armchair Golfer