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The Loop

Has Yang ignited a revolution?

August 17, 2009

Can a single victory launch a movement that will revolutionize a game? There is a precedent.

Se Ri Pak was the lone South Korean on the LPGA when she won the LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women's Open in 1998. Today, as a direct result of Pak's success, South Koreans are a dominant force in women's golf.

"It's hard for us here in the U.S. to imagine the impact this will have," Australian Geoff Ogilvy said of Y.E. Yang's improbable victory in the PGA Championship on Sunday.

The fact that Yang was in contention and playing with Tiger Woods served as a collective wake-up call for Korea, where the final-round telecast began early on Monday morning. Among the viewers was South Korea President Lee Myung-bak, who later phoned Yang with his congratulations.

"I woke up at dawn today to watch the broadcast, and you played in a calm manner," Lee told Yang. "First of all, you enhanced our people's morale by winning the major title for the first time as an Asian."

The addition of golf to the Olympics and Yang's victory over Tiger Woods at Hazeltine are a potent combination, Joe Steranka, the chief executive of the PGA of America, told the Associated Press. "Earlier this week, I said the addition of golf to the Olympics is the single biggest thing to accelerate the growth of the game. I stand corrected. There are now going to be other Asian nations saying, 'OK, how are we going to prepare our players to go play on the international stage?'"

The impact of Yang's victory won't rise to the level of the impact Pak had on the game. Nonetheless, it likely will be substantial in the years ahead.

-- John Strege