First Asian-Born Winner of a Major Championship

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South Korea’s Yang Yong-Eun became the first Asian-born winner of a major championship when he beat Tiger Woods to clinch the USPGA title at Hazeltine this evening.

The 37-year-old was two shots adrift of overnight leader Woods but held his nerve to card 70 to Tiger’s 75 to win by three on the final green.

Yang’s victory ends Woods’s run of winning all 14 of his major titles when leading going into the final round.

Woods was chasing a 15th major title and a record-equaling fifth USPGA title but unlike in previous majors he failed to hole putts when they really mattered and was unable to pull clear.

Yang, who was ranked 110th in the world before the event, won his single PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic at Riviera earlier this year but was best known for holding off Woods at the HSBC Champions event in China three years ago.

“It will be a crazy party tonight for my friends,” said Yang, speaking through a translator. “I knew the odds were against me. I tried to be the least nervous I have ever been and went for broke.”

The previous best performance by a South Korean in a major was KJ Choi’s third in the 2004 Masters tournament.

Formerly, the best Asian results in a major were Taiwan’s Huan Lu-Liang, who finished runner-up in the 1971 Open, Japan’s Isao Aoki, who placed second in the 1980 US Open and Taiwan’s Chen Tze-Chung (TC Chen) who also tied for second at the 1985 US Open.

Woods, who has won 70 career titles, said: “He played beautifully. He did everything he needed to do. You have to make putts I didn’t do that.”

The American was seeking his first major win of the season after missing the cut in the Open at Turnberry. This is the first year he has not won at least one major since 2004 and the second time he has finished as runner-up to a surprise winner at Hazeltine. Despite ending with four birdies he lost out to Rich Beem when the USPGA was last held there in 2002.

Yang joins Angel Cabrera (Masters), Lucas Glover (US Open) and Stewart Cink (Open Championship) as the 2009 major winners. Well done Yang…it was a brilliant performance and the win was richly deserved.

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