- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

CHASKA, Minn. | Tiger Woods finally met his match at a major.

Y.E. Yang became an unlikely pioneer Sunday, notching a pair of shocking firsts with his three-stroke triumph over Tiger Woods at the 91st PGA Championship.

Shattering a pair of major barriers at Hazeltine, the 37-year-old South Korean became both the first Asian-born player to win a major championship and the first player to chase down Woods on a Slam Sunday.

“You never know in life. It might be my last win as a golfer, but this is a great day,” Yang (8-under 280) said through an interpreter.

He joined the PGA Tour last year and collected his first victory on the circuit at the Honda Classic earlier this season.

“It means the world right now,” he added. “It hasn’t sunken in yet, but I do know the significance of it.”

Of primary significance, Woods had been 14-0 from the 54-hole major pole and entered the day at 8 under with a two-stroke lead over Yang and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington. But after Harrington imploded with a quintuple bogey on the par-3 eighth, only Woods and Yang were left to battle for the Wanamaker Trophy.

Both made the turn at 6 under, three clear of the rest of the field. But Yang wrested the lead from Woods for the first time all week at the drivable par-4 14th, holing a 50-yard chip for eagle from just above a short, greenside bunker to pull two strokes clear of Woods.

The world No. 1 responded by getting up and down for birdie from the same bunker, but he couldn’t catch Yang down the stretch.

That it was just the second time Yang played in a major - he missed the cut at the Masters - showed only once. After Woods laced a 7-iron directly over the flag into the high rough behind the 17th green and failed to get up and down, Yang needed only a two-putt par from 30 feet to take a two-stroke lead and effectively end the tournament.

Instead, he left his approach putt nearly 10 feet short and then lipped out his par bid, giving everyone in attendance the eerie feeling that Woods still would somehow swipe the title from Yang on the event’s 72nd hole.

But leading by a tenuous stroke over the greatest closer in golf history, Yang struck the shot of the tournament from the left edge of the 18th fairway, carving a soaring 3-hybrid over a tree and within 10 feet of the pin from 206 yards. Forced to answer to have any chance at his 15th major title, Woods bounced his approach just left of the pin but found a dreadful lie just off the collar in the deep, greenside rough. Needing to hole out to have any chance of forcing a playoff, Woods’ futile final pitch tracked left and well past the hole.

With two putts to make history, Yang needed just one, pouring in his birdie bid to become the first player to stare down Woods on a Slam Sunday.

“Y.E. played great all day,” said a gracious Woods, who hit just 12 greens and took 33 putts on Hazeltine’s greens, many of them solid rolls that tantalizingly grazed the cup. “Other than [the mistake at 17], he hit it great all day. And it was a fun battle. Unfortunately, I just didn’t make the putts when I needed them.”

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