CHASKA, Minn. — Y.E. Yang shook his fists and shouted with joy over a victory felt around the world. Equally stunning was the sight of Tiger Woods standing over the final putt of the PGA Championship with nothing at stake.
The final major of the year delivered a pair of shocking developments Sunday.
Yang, a 37-year-old from South Korea who was in the PGA Tour's qualifying school nine months ago, became the first Asian-born player to capture a major title with a series of spectacular shots on the back nine of Hazeltine.
Even more memorable was the guy he beat.
Woods, seeking his 15th major, was 14-0 when he was atop the leaderboard entering the final round of a major. He had never lost any tournament on American soil when leading by more than one shot going into the final round.
Yang showed everyone how to beat him, from the stars who had failed in the past dozen years to an emerging generation of golfers in Asia.
"It's not like you're in an octagon where you're fighting against Tiger and he's going to bite you or swing at you with his 9-iron," Yang said through an interpreter. "The worst that I could do was just lose to Tiger. So I really had nothing much at stake."
When he saw Woods in birdie range at No. 14, Yang chipped in from 60 feet for eagle to take the lead. Clinging to a one-shot lead, a tree slightly blocking his view of the flag on the 18th hole and Woods in the fairway, Yang hit the shot of his life. His 3-iron hybrid cleared a bunker and settled 12 feet away.
Yang made the final birdie to close with 2-under 70, giving him a three-shot victory at 8-under 280 when Woods missed yet another short par putt and had 75, his worst score in the final round of a major when he was in the last group.
"I was in control of the tournament for most of the day," Woods said. "I was playing well, hitting the ball well. I was making nothing."
It was Yang, not Woods, who hit the heroic shots down the stretch. And it was Yang, not Woods, who holed the clutch putts.
"Y.E. played great all day," Woods said. "I don't think he really missed a shot all day. It was a fun battle. Unfortunately, I just didn't make the putts when I needed to make them."
It wasn't a bad finish for someone who took up golf at 19 as a way to pay bills and ended up finding the job of his dreams.
"Honestly, I'm not prepared, I think," Yang said of his new fame. "It's going to be a bit tough, sure, I know that. It's going to be fun, too. But honestly, I've never been in this spot, so I really can't assess it. This is my first time. I'm just going to try to go and improvise."
Yang was No. 110 in the world, his only tour win coming in March at the Honda Classic. He was best known for holding off Woods at the HSBC Champions in China three years ago. This stage was far bigger, and Yang was even better.
He trailed by two going into the final round, caught Woods at the turn and took the lead with a chip-in for eagle on No. 14.
When it looked as if nerves were getting the best of him on a three-putt bogey at No. 17, he delivered his two most important shots for an unlikely win.
Yang still had enough strength to hoist his golf bag over his head and later the 44-pound Wanamaker Trophy. After a long, tearful embrace with his wife, Young Ju Park, he walked across a bridge saluting thousands of fans.
"I've sort of visualized this quite a few times, playing against one of the best players, if not the best player, in the history of golf," Yang said. "And I've seen throughout Tiger's career that a lot of players have folded on the last day when playing with him.
"When the chance came, I thought, 'Hey, I could always play a good round of golf, and Tiger could always have a bad day.' And I guess today was one of those days."