The Loop

Yang fits the profile of a Woods challenger

August 16, 2009

The perpetual quest to identify a rival for Tiger Woods typically produces identifiable names in the golf world, including at various times Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and, most recently, Padraig Harrington.

The fact is that we've always looked in the wrong place. The players that present the most formidable challenges to Woods when a major championship is within his range have historically been those who, by the standards of the aforementioned, are obscure.

Bob May nearly toppled Woods in the PGA Championship in 2000. Rich Beem held off a Woods' charge in the PGA Championship at Hazeltine in 2002. Chris DiMarco had Woods on the ropes in the Masters in 2005 before succumbing in overtime. Michael Campbell beat him in the U.S. Open in 2005. Zach Johnson defeated him at Augusta in 2007.

And now this, Y.E. Yang of South Korea, closing in style and defeating Woods by three in the PGA Championship on Sunday.

The only logical explanation is that those whose careers otherwise weren't likely to be defined by their records in major championships have nothing to lose and thus aren't shackled by the burden of expectation.

-- John Strege