The New York Times has an article speculating about the lasting impact of Yang’s victory over Tiger Woods At The 2009 PGA Championship:
“Whenever someone accomplishes a milestone that has never been reached before — especially in sports — it tends to inspire a generation,” said Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour executive who is the executive director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee. “The impact of Y. E. Yang’s win at the P.G.A. Championship will be felt immediately on the local tournament level — an increase in hospitality sales, ticket sales, Korean media interest and coverage at the Barclays and the Presidents Cup, for instance.
“But the long-term impact on the game of golf globally will best be measured when the next generation of golfers recalls the time they saw Y. E. Yang win the P.G.A. Championship and were inspired to pick up the game, much like what Se Ri Pak did for women’s golf in Korea 11 years ago.” Pak, then 20, won the L.P.G.A. Championship and the United States Women’s Open in her rookie season on the LPGA Tour.
This isn’t the only writer I’ve seen predicting that Yang’s victory will resound through the ages: Tiger has been shown to be vulnerable. Golf will boom in Asia (as if it isn’t already) Sponsors will return to the sport. And on and on.
I think they’re all getting ahead of themselves. Part of it is that now that the Majors are over, there really isn’t much golf to write about, the Fedex Cup not withstanding. This is a story that has to last until the next Masters. The other is that—in our 24/7 media world—people lack any sort of perspective. Whatever happens today is the best or the worst thing that has ever happened. History began when we were in our late teens.
I personally don’t think Yang’s victory will have any lasting impact—even in Korea. It was a single, surprise victory by a player who was unknown two weeks ago. Now, if Yang manages to contend in next year’s Majors, or stares down Tiger in a future tournament, we might have something. It might even signal something if Tiger fails to win a Major again next year.
Until then, lets not put the cart before the horse.