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Rub of the Green

August 29, 2009

Rub of the Green: Woods vs. Yang at PGA proves anything can happen

Tiger Woods wants to win major golf championships, and he wants to win them in the worst way. With 14 of them already in his resume, it looked obvious that the 2009 PGA Championship would be No. 15, especially since Tiger, No. 1 in the world, had never lost a major holding the lead going into the final round. But then, as most golfers know, cow pasture pool can be a crazy, weird and wild game.

Not getting to a television set until the season’s last major was in the waning holes, I expected a dancing, fist-pumping Tiger Woods to have his 15th major all sewed up. I couldn’t have been further off base.

Here came Y.E. Yang from South Korea, ranked No. 110 in the world with one PGA win, compared to Tiger’s 70. Yang was not only matching Woods shot for shot, but also doing some fist-pumping of his own. When Yang at the age of 37 hadn’t even taken up golf until he was 19, chipped in for eagle on the par-four 301-yard 14th hole to take a one shot lead, few would have suspected that Tiger would ultimately lose by three shots.

Woods has had some close calls in the past, but he had always managed to come up with an answer to whatever threat was thrown at him, whether it was finding the cup with an “impossible” shot from behind the 16th green at The Masters or holing a long putt at Valhalla while hapless Bob May was missing a four-foot birdie try at another PGA Championship a few years back.

To add insult to injury in that one, Woods hit a wild hook in the playoff that had “out of bounds” written all over it until it rattled off a huge tree and came floating back to the fairway where it was turned into an easy birdie and another major win for Tiger.

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