Impact of Yang's victory could change game for ever
Tuesday 18 August 2009
Golfing officials and professionals alike were last night predicting the first major victory by an Asian male to trigger an explosion of interest in the game's fastest-growing market.
After watching YE Yang lift the Wanamaker Trophy, Joe Steranka, the chief executive of the PGA of America, said: "Earlier this week, I said the addition of golf to the Olympics would be the single biggest thing to accelerate the growth of the game. I stand corrected..." Meanwhile, the Australian major-winner Geoff Ogilvy said: "It's hard for us here in the US to imagine the impact this will have."
If the example of the women's game is any sort of gauge then the answer to that will be massive. Since Se Ri Pak won two majors as a rookie in 1998, seven South Korean females have won 11 majors between them. Little wonder the nation's president rang Yang with his congratulations, telling him his victory was even more valuable because of his inspirational life story.
The 37-year-old did not take up the game until he was 19, having initially trained to be a bodybuilder. Living on the island of Jeju, his father urged his son to join him on the fields, but instead, he began working, and sleeping, at a local driving range.
It took Yang until he was nearly 25 to turn pro and despite his first victory over Woods in Shanghai three years ago and his first win on the PGA Tour earlier this season, Yang remained in the shadow of his countryman SK Choi. It is fair to comment that the player ranked outside the top 100 last week has emerged – as the man who could just have changed golf forever.
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