CHASKA, Minn. (AP) — Knowing his last remaining challenger was about to make a birdie, he chipped in from 60 feet for an eagle. The crowd roared, and he responded with a scream and a fist pump.
Got to be Tiger Woods wrapping up another major.
No, not this time.
Y.E. Yang, a South Korean who didn't take up the game until he was 19, became the first Asian player to win a major championship Sunday. And he took down Woods in the PGA Championship to do it.
"I usually go for broke," Yang said through an interpreter. "The odds are against me. Nobody's going to be really disappointed that I lose. So I really had nothing much at stake, and that's how I played it."
Beating Woods in a regular tournament would be a big enough shocker for a 37-year-old player who was in PGA Tour qualifying school just nine months ago. That he did it in a major, is an upset so big it sent shock waves around the world.
Woods was 14-0 when he was atop the leaderboard going into the final round of a major. He had never lost any tournament on American soil when leading by more than one shot.
Yang's stunning victory might turn out to be a watershed for the Asian-born men's game, too, much the way Se Ri Pak was for women. Since she won the LPGA Championship and U.S. Women's Open in 1998, seven South Korean women have combined to win 11 majors.
Yang and K.J. Choi are the only PGA Tour players who learned golf in South Korea before coming to America.
"That really created a huge boom in Korea golf-wise, where everybody started picking up clubs instead of tennis rackets and baseball bats," Yang said. "I hope this win would be, if not as significant, something quite parallel to an impact both to golf in Korea as well as golf in Asia so that all the young golfers, Korean and Asian, would build their dreams and expand their horizons."
If the reaction back in South Korea is any guide, they will. People woke up before dawn to watch the final round: including president Lee Myung-bak, who later called Yang to offer his congratulations. Driving ranges were filled before work Monday morning.
At the Hoban Korean Restaurant near Hazeltine, where Yang ate all week, the owners not only kept the restaurant open Sunday night, they and the entire staff were waiting outside, applauding Yang as he arrived.
"You enhanced our people's morale by winning the major title for the first time as an Asian," Lee told Yang, according to Lee's office.
And Yang gave hope to every other golfer, showing them that not only can Woods be beaten, but how to do it.
Knowing Woods was on the verge of a birdie on 14, Yang chipped in from 60 feet for eagle to take the lead. With Woods only a stroke behind and in the fairway on 18, he made an even more spectacular shot. Despite a tree blocking his view of the flag, Yang's 3-iron hybrid cleared a bunker and settled 12 feet away.
He made the final birdie to close with a 2-under 70, giving him a three-shot victory when Woods missed yet another short par putt.
"I played well enough to win the championship. I did not putt well enough to win the championship," said Woods, whose 75 was his worst score ever in the final round of the major when he was in the last group.
"I didn't get it done on the greens, and consequently, I didn't win the golf tournament."
Though Yang won the Honda Classic in March, he was best known for holding off Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago. But they weren't paired together then.