2009 PGA gave Asia first major winner as Yang felled Woods
New York: The US PGA Championship has thrown up some surprise winners and produced some stunning upsets over the ages but few can match last year`s drama.
For some players, such as David Toms, Rich Beem and Wayne Grady, the PGA Championship was their lone major title. But for others, including John Daly and Vijay Singh, it served as a launchpad to greater success.
It remains to be seen which of those categories last year`s champion, South Korea`s Yang Yong-eun, ends in, but even if he never wins another major, he will be hard-pressed topping the drama and significance of his win in 2009.
Not only did the 37-year-old claim his first major, he became the first Asian-born male to win one of golf`s big four titles. He did it in a way no other professional had before, coming from behind in the final round to beat the seemingly-invincible Tiger Woods in a head-to-head battle.
"I`m living my dream," Yang said at the time as he was instantly thrust into a world of celebrations and adulation from supporters in his homeland.
Despite several near misses since Taiwan`s Lu Liang-huan ran Lee Trevino desperately close at the 1971 British Open, the golfing world had patiently awaited the first Asian-born winner of a major.
Japan`s Isao Aoki, one of golf`s best exponents of the short game, finished runner-up to Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 US Open and five years later Taiwan`s T.C. Chen tied for second behind Andy North at the same event.
In recent years, Thailand`s Thongchai Jaidee, Japan`s Shigeki Maruyama and Korean KJ Choi have all raised hopes in Asia. But it was Yang, who only started playing the game at 19, that achieved the breakthrough.