Asia hails Tiger slayer Yang

SEOUL - Asia celebrated yesterday after unheralded Yang Yong-Eun stunned Tiger Woods to become the region's first major winner, capping a boom in the fast-growing market.

SEOUL - Asia celebrated yesterday after unheralded Yang Yong-Eun stunned Tiger Woods to become the region's first major winner, capping a boom in the fast-growing market.

Golf fans from politicians to office workers watched on live TV as South Korea's Yang birdied the last hole with a sizzling approach over a tree to seal the PGA Championship by three shots over the world number one.

"That's probably the shot of the year," Asian Tour executive chairperson Kyi Hla Han told AFP. "Especially against Tiger - that's as high a pressure shot as you can have."

South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak phoned Yang to praise him for the win, which dominated yesterday's cabinet meeting.

"You raised the morale of our people by becoming the first Asian to secure a major title," Lee told Yang.

Korean TV repeatedly aired footage of Yang's final putt and unusual celebration, when he power-lifted his golf bag above his head.

Meanwhile his parents' home in the resort of island of Jeju was swamped with phone-calls and the Munhwa afternoon newspaper featured a picture of a jubilant Yang on its front page.

Yang breaks an Asian jinx in majors after three players - Taiwan's Huan Lu-Liang and TC Chen, and Japan's Isao Aoki - were runner-up in the 1970s and 1980s.

He is also the first player to overhaul a lead by Woods, a 14-time major champion, in one of golf's big four tournaments.

Yang, 37, cut his teeth on the Asian circuit, winning four times in Japan before his breakthrough victory - also against Woods - at the 2006 HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai.

X