There is little doubt that shredders are smoking and wastebaskets overflowing after writers across the country throw away their original stories – those stories with some variation of the headline “Tiger cruises to 15th major”.
Back the truck up, hold the phone, now just hold on a minute, stop the presses!
With his victory in the 91st PGA Championship, Y.E. Yang has singlehandedly caused more rewrites than the Bush/Gore election in 2000.
Yang, anchored by nerves of steel and a timely eagle on the par 4 14th, captured his first major title and accomplished what so many others before had failed to do – overtake Tiger Woods in the final round of a major. A birdie on the 18th put an exclamation point on his stunning victory. This combined with his win at the Honda make him a darkhorse candidate for player of the year. But before I get ahead of myself…
While some managed to hang around (Westwood and McIlroy), others fell off the map completely (Harrington with the dreaded snowman, making 8 on the par 3 8th). Still others languished and could get nothing going (Els, Singh, and US Open winner Lucas Glover).
Meanwhile Tiger was unable to muster any magic or momentum. An inauspicious 38 on the front side was followed by a lackluster 37 on the inward 9. Even his birdie on fourteen, only his second of the day, was overshadowed moments earlier by Yang’s eagle chip from short right of the green. Wayward drives and uninspired iron play hallmarked Tiger’s final round, a round most had predicted to end in certain victory and propel him one step closer to the Golden Bear.
Don’t cry for Tiger though, cheer for Yang. He deserved the title. While many players have wilted under Tiger’s pressure, Yang appeared poised and relaxed throughout the round. He seemed unfazed by Tiger’s presence and avoided any significant damage along the way. In fact his only two bogeys on the day were followed by a par and a birdie. His ability to right the ship so-to-speak was on display all week. In the second round he followed back-to-back-to-back bogeys on three, four and five, with birdie/eagle on six and seven for net par over 5 holes. At no other time over the course of 4 rounds did he have consecutive bogeys. With the victory, Yang moves up 14 slots in the FedEx Cup race to number 7.
Phi Mickelson was unable to create anything this week, the victim to a shaky flat-stick. Needing some help he barely made it in under the cut, and then completed the final two rounds almost invisibly. At twelve over he finished in solo 73rd, a completely forgettable result. He currently stands 6th in the Fedex race, falling from number 5 going into this week’s competition for the Wannamaker Trophy. He was replaced at number five by Lucas Glover who followed his US Open victory with another solid showing in a major.
Still, Phil’s performance in this year’s majors was memorable. His Sunday run at the Masters playing alongside Tiger Woods was the stuff network executives dream of. His near-miss at Bethpage, with the crowds trying to will putts into the hole, was heartbreaking to be sure, but vintage Phil Mickelson.
Now he has to put this year’s final major behind him and gear up for the Fedex playoffs. In a year of great highs and great lows for Phil, it is about time for a high.