A groundbreaking win last Sunday propelled Korean golfer Y.E. Yang into rock star status in the golf world and in Asian communities across the globe. An underdog in a game facing the titan, Y.E. Yang beat out Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship to become the first Asian ever to win a men’s major golf title.
Yang, 37, came to victory from a slow start as Woods took the initial lead, but quickly picked up pace to beat out Woods and finish the game with a two-under-par 70 in the final round.
The win was a surprise for many who expected Woods to pick up yet another title when playing against a relative unknown. Yang was ranked #108 in the world and Woods #1 leading up to the game.
Yang’s win inspired many, particularly Asians and Asian Americans, who were glued to their seats in anticipation as Yang’s game began to pick up. Asian golfers around the world were delighted, citing Yang’s victory as encouragement to the many budding golfers in Japan, South Korea, and India. Sunday’s big win is moving, but so is Yang’s unexpected journey to his achievements today.
Born to a poor farmer in Jeju, South Korea, Yang came into the world of golf by chance at the age of 19, when a good friend persuaded him to visit a driving range in South Korea.
There, Yang’s golf education continued while working at the driving range at the Jeju’s Ora Country Club, where he got a job picking up balls at the range. Since then, Yang has continued to master his skill with patience and dedication, growing into the talent he is today.
“Until I picked up my first golf club, I was like anybody else in the world, an average Joe,” Yang told reporters. “I guess the fearlessness comes from the fact that every day I’m living my dream. I have this mentality where I try my best and leave no regrets. I guess if I do have courage, that’s where it comes from.”