Yong-eun Yang chipped in from 40 feet for an eagle on Hazeltine’s short par-4, the 14th, to pass Tiger Woods. When that Sunday in the 2009 PGA Championship had concluded, Yang had shot a 2-under 70, Woods had put up a 75 and the previously unknown South Korean had a three-shot victory.
This was a historic moment, since before that final round it seemed inevitable that Woods — then 33 — was going to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championships and end all debate as to the greatest golfer in history.
Consider: From the start of 1999, when Woods began his full domination of the golf world, until August 2009 at Hazeltine, Tiger played in 186 official PGA Tour events and won 63.
That was a winning percentage of .339 — or, to put it another way, Tiger was beating the field in golf tournaments at a higher rate than 2012 batting champions Miguel Cabrera (.330) and Buster Posey (.336) had base hits.
In majors, Woods won 13 of 41 (.317). Nicklaus’ best run in majors was 1970 through 1980, when he won 10 of 44 (.227).
Yang finished ahead of Woods by two strokes at this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla. It didn’t mean much, since he missed the cut at 146 (75-71) and Tiger missed at 148 (74-74).
Five years earlier, Yang said through an interpreter at Hazeltine: “This might be my last win as a golfer, but it sure is a great day.’’
Yang was prophetic. It was his last win on the PGA Tour. Most weeks now are like Valhalla for Yang — missing the cut and heading for the airport after 36 holes.
The prediction that neither Yang nor the rest of the golf world could have made at the PGA five years ago was what would become of Tiger.
Starting with the loss to Yang, Woods is 9-for-68 (.132) in official PGA Tour events. He is 0-for-17 in majors. The astounding decline has been traced to scandal, knee surgeries and now back surgery.
Fair enough, but let’s not forget another element: Yong-eun Yang showing the world that Tiger was fallible.
Plus Three from Patrick
Exhibition debuts for rookie Vikings QBs:
8-14-06 at Metrodome: Tarvaris Jackson goes 7-for-13 for 60 yards in 16-13 loss to Oakland. Brad Johnson started.
8-13-11 at Tennessee: Christian Ponder goes 8-for-13 for 84 yards in 14-3 loss to Titans. Donovan McNabb started.
8-8-14 at TCF Bank Stadium: Teddy Bridgewater goes 6-for-13 for 49 yards in 10-6 win over Oakland. Matt Cassell started.
Note: No TDS or interceptions for the three rookies.