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Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 11 – Yang beats Tiger at the 2009 PGA Championship

December 20, 2015

Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods’ 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger’s 40th birthday. That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.

Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 11 – Yang beats Tiger at 2009 PGA Championship

If you were the type of guy who put money on Buster Douglas to beat Mike Tyson, or Jack Fleck to beat Ben Hogan, or Bambi to maul Godzilla, then you might have put money on Y.E. Yang to upend Tiger Woods.

But people would’ve said you were nuts.

One guy, Yang, was ranked 110th in the world, had done a hitch in the South Korean military, and had been anonymous in America until he’d won that year’s Honda Classic. The other guy was No. 1 Woods, who already had hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy four times, was 14 of 14 at closing out majors when he had at least a share of the lead, and held a two-shot cushion over Yang and Paddy Harrington through 54 holes at Hazeltine.

Naturally, Yang won

“It was a terrible day on the greens at the wrong time,” Woods said after taking 33 putts. Perhaps he was distracted. He was, after all, only three months from crashing his Escalade into a fire hydrant, touching off the most frenzied tabloid sex scandal in the history of golf and perhaps all of sports.

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But give credit to Yang. His pitch-and-run eagle at the par-4 14th hole swung the day in his favor, and he zealously guarded the lead with his clutch hybrid shot to 10 feet at the 18th hole. At 37, he’d put together the greatest round of his career, and he shot 70 to Woods’s pitiful 75.

“This might be my last win as a golfer,” Yang said through an interpreter. “But it sure is a great day. It means the world right now.”

Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our TIGER@40 countdown.

No. 12: Charles Pierce’s GQ Cover Story

No. 13: Battling Sergio at the 1999 PGA Championship

No. 14: Outdueling Sergio, Phil at ’02 Open

No. 15: Seven Straight Tour Wins in ’06-‘07

No. 16: Hello, World

No. 17: ’Better Than Most’ at 2001 Players Championship

No. 18: Winning the 2000 British Open at St. Andrews by 8

No. 19: Winning SI Sportsman of the Year in 1996

No. 20: Return from Scandal at 2010 Masters

No. 21: Winning Third Straight U.S. Amateur Title

No. 22: The Apology Press Conference

No. 23: Shot from Fairway Bunker at 2000 Canadian Open

No. 24: Passes Nicklaus in Career PGA Tour Wins

No. 25: Signs First Deal With Nike

No. 26: Knee Surgery After 2008 U.S. Open

No. 27: Winning Back-to-Back Masters

No. 28: Launching the Tiger Woods Foundation

No. 29: Becoming a Father for the First Time

No. 30: Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams

No. 31: First U.S. Amateur Win at TPC Sawgrass

No. 32: Wire-to-Wire British Open Win at St. Andrews in 2005

No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn

No. 34: Third Straight U.S. Junior Am Title

No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone

No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2

No. 37: Breakup with Hank Haney After Six Years

No. 38: Disastrous 2004 Ryder Cup Pairing with Phil Mickelson

No. 39: Beats Stephen Ames 9&8 in 2006 Cadillac Match Play

No. 40: Wins 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational with Dramatic Putt