Tiger still the inspiration despite Yang’s major success

August 18, 2009


Yang Yong-eun’s shock win at the PGA Championship ended an embarrassing drought in major championships for the male of the species in staunchly patriarchal South Korea, where men are men and the women — well, the women play golf.

Since Pak Se-ri’s trailblazing triumphs at the US Women’s Open and LPGA Championship in 1998, South Korean women piled up nine more major titles. Before Yang’s victory on Sunday, Korean men had never come close, KJ Choi giving false hope at the 2004 Masters before finishing third.

But while Pak’s wins sparked a South Korean invasion of the LPGA Tour, don’t expect Yang’s success to open the floodgates to hordes of young Korean guns determined to redress the balance in the battle of the sexes.

Nor will it inspire a generation of young Asians to take up the game, despite what some say in the media.

Harsh though it may sound, Yang’s victory will prove about as inspirational as Lucas Glover’s earlier this year in the US Open.

“Lucas Who?” Exactly.

Anyone who takes up golf these days, or who pushes their child into golf, does so because of Tiger Woods — not because the 110th ranked player in the world beat him in one tournament.

South Korea is chock full of promising young male golfers, cracking balls on the driving range morning, noon and night in the hope of hitting the big time. It’s unlikely any of them will be tearing down their Tiger posters this week and begging their parents to buy them the same shoes Yang Yong-eun wears.

Granted Pak Se-ri inspired a whole generation of Korean women to take up the game after becoming a national hero a decade ago, but in those days fathers took their daughters to the range simply because their sons were out playing ‘real’ sports such as baseball and soccer.

Golf’s popularity among both sexes is now sky high in South Korea, there are no untapped talent pools waiting for inspiration. Nationwide development programmes and an explosion of golf ranges has ensured that basically any kid who wants to play can play. Even screen golf is a $450 million industry there.

Yang deserves nothing but praise for taking Tiger down at the last major of the year and his charitable work on South Korea’s Jeju Island makes him an even more worthy winner.

But 10 years from now don’t expect major champions to credit him as their inspiration — “Tiger Woods” will still be the name on everyone’s lips.

PHOTO: Yang Yong-eun of South Korea poses with the Wanamaker trophy after winning the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota August 16, 2009. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan


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sorry dude not everyone goes to sleep with a hard on and wet dream about tiger woods like you do. Yang just just beat a man who had never lost to anybody after leading the first 3 rounds and you’re Yang? Koreans are celebrating like never before and the PM calls Yang to congrats and you’re telling us he won’t inspire 1 single korean kid? LOL looks like somebody still haven’t stop crying since Tiger was tamed by Yang.

Posted by Aroids | Report as abusive

“embarrassing drought in major championships for the male of the species”

I don’t like your choice of words “male of the species”. The tone of voice is that of a naturalist observing animals in the wild. To be blunt, you are insinuating that Koreans are animals, not humans.

You should apologize or change the wording.

Posted by johnlee | Report as abusive

sorry to disapoint you but not everybody worships woods as much as you. in fact, i don’t watch pga matches because the same person usually wins them. it gets boring to see the same guy hog all the wins even if it is tiger woods, so it was so refreshing to see someone else win for a change. and i tuned in not to watch tiger woods but to watch y.e. yang make history by becoming the first asian man to win a major. and beating tiger woods to do it was just an icing on the cake. you are speaking for all the koreans and assuming that tiger woods is more inspirational to them than y.e. yang. on the contrary, most if not all the koreans will be inspired by y.e. yang’s history making victory and he is certain to become a national hero. there is nothing more inspirational than a story of a farmer’s son who discovered golf at age 19 and worked his butt off to achieve his success. i suggest that you stop being a sour grape about wood’s loss and just give credit where it is due and deal with great play when you see it.

Posted by sue | Report as abusive

I conqueer with all the previous thoughts on how shallow of an article it was that you have written. Does it matter that TIGER never has lost a major after heading into the final round? does it matter that Yang took up golf at 19?? no and it should not matter that Yang won in orderly fashion and he should be cherished for the win not finding ways inwhich to incite arroungance around the pompous tiger woods!!!

Posted by jonathan | Report as abusive

Not a lot of support for what you say. Best if you cry in private, not in public. If you don’t like what you see now, just wait. Tiger will never win another major. We are here to learn how to become better human beings, such as learning humility, not to set records. Tiger has a long way to go, and so do you.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

i agree with JONATHAN he is soo right TIGER is a spoiled brat that should get over himself faster than the author of this stupid article that only incites the more radical side in all of us!

Posted by Howard | Report as abusive

Golf is a great and inspiring game because the #100++ can beat the best golfer in the world in a good week. Tiger is still the best by far and wide and Yang is a hero.

Posted by German | Report as abusive

Great work! What is discuss here is one side of the coin, what about social media, isnt it a challenge to google

Posted by Jeff Paul Forum | Report as abusive