A rising star and a fallen hero
Last weekend was a monumental one in the world of golf where a relatively unknown golfer used the playbook of Tiger Woods to dethrone the game’s top star while the National Football League reluctantly welcomed back one of its former heroes who made several bad choices and paid a big price for his transgressions.
After missing out on winning the first three major golf tournaments this season, Tiger Woods was primed and sitting atop of the heap in this year’s final major—the PGA Tournament—as Sunday’s final round approached.
His playing partner for Sunday’s fourth round was Y.E. Yang, a 37-year-old South Korean golfer who has only been playing on the Pro Tour since 2007, and began the final day of the PGA Tournament two shots behind Tiger at six-under-par.
Yang won his first PGA Tour victory—the 2009 Honda Classic—earlier this season and also had five International victories on his resume. But he was ranked No. 110 in the world compared to Tiger’s No. 1 ranking and Yang’s best finish in a major tourney was a tie for 30th in the Masters.
Yang recorded his first career PGA Tour top-10 finish last year in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when he tied for ninth place. He made 17 cuts in 23 PGA Tour starts in 2008, his second year on the tour. He earned full exemption for 2009 via the 2008 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Tiger’s game plan for the final day was to grind out a bunch of pars and coast to his 15th victory of a major and 71st Tour win. It worked somewhat for Woods, but his magical putting stroke was nowhere to be found. He missed a pair of short par putts and turned the front nine in two-over 38.
Yang didn’t do anything to dazzle the golfing world but simply wouldn’t go away. The match was tied on the short 301-yard par 4 No. 14 when Yang chipped in his second shot for an eagle and went ahead by two shots.
Yang then put on his best Tiger impression by grinding out pars, slipping a bit with a three-putt bogey on 17, and then making a sensational second shot on the 72nd hole and rolling in a birdie to secure the PGA title with a two-under-par 70. Tiger missed his short par putt and finished three strokes off Yang’s winning score with a not-so-Tigerish 75.
Yang, who was the first golfer to go from Q-school to PGA champion since John Daly did it in 1991, finished at 8-under par 280 and won $1.35 million and more importantly a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour and the majors.
Yang’s win marked the first time an Asian-born player won an major tournament and the first time Tiger has failed to win a major when he led after 54 holes or lose any tournament around the world in the last nine years when leading by two shots.
“I hit the ball as good as ever, but I couldn’t do a thing on the greens. You have to make putts,” Woods lamented during the post-tournament interview. Yang, who just moved to our country in the last two months spoke through an interpreter and said he was very happy with the way he played for the entire four days.
Happy was not one of the words most Philadelphia football fans used about the news that Michael Vick had been signed to a contract by the Eagles. After all, those are the same fans that booed Santa Claus when he made an appearance at the stadium a few years ago around Christmas time.
Vick was interviewed by sports reporter James Brown on “60 Minutes” which aired Sunday night on CBS. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, who had been the highest paid player in the NFL, admitted he did a foolish thing by bankrolling the dog-fighting operation in Virginia.
Vick said that there always was dog-fighting going on while he was growing up as a young boy in Virginia, and he never thought it was against the law or anything.
But Brown had him squirming in his seat when he mentioned some of the gruesome methods used for killing the dogs that would not fight. “You engaged in some horrific deeds involving the dogs— beating them, shooting them, electrocuting them and drowning them,” Brown pointed out.
When he was arrested for his cruel deeds, Vick forfeited his seven-year, $135 million contract he had just signed with the Atlanta Falcons and the tens of millions of dollars he had in endorsements. He was the only quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
“I deserved to lose that $135 million contract,” Vick admitted. “I did something that was wrong. I could have stopped it but I didn’t. I was scared my career would come to an end, so I lied to everyone about being involved in the dog-fighting operation.”
Also on the show was former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and the president of the Humane Society who has accepted Vick as a spokesman for the organization. Vick’s focus with the Humane Society is to visit schools throughout the country and encourage the young children to love their pet animals.
Dungy visited Vick when he was in prison and wanted to help him salvage his career. He pointed out to Michael that he was a gifted athlete who relied entirely on his natural ability but was relatively lazy and was always the last player to arrive for practice and the first one to leave when the session was over.
Vick said that his two years away from the NFL didn’t hurt his blazing speed or affect his arm strength. “I still can run as fast as I did two years ago and throw the football as hard and as far as ever before,” Vick told Brown.
This Korner believes that Eagles head coach Andy Reid will welcome Vick with open arms as a back-up to starting quarterback Donovan McNabb. He plans on utilizing Vick’s speed in running plays from the new Wildcat formation.
Reid should want to give Vick a second chance. After all, he lost two of his own sons to the prison system for their involvement with drugs a couple of years ago.
KWICKIES…Congrats to Sunset Grove Country Club golfers Joe Sanders and George Navarez for recent holes-in-one on the Par 3 No. 12 hole.
Five former McNeese State University athletes will be inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame during halftime of the opening football game this season on Sept. 5 against Henderson State. Football’s Billy Blakeman, Henry Fields and Terry Irving, baseball’s Terry Burrows and woman’s track star Sita Waru will be honored at a reception before the game at 6 p.m. in the Cowboy Room and then inducted at the intermission.
If our Houston Astros are going to make a run at the first-place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division, they had better get busy in a hurry. Through Sunday’s action when the Astros came back twice to overtake the Milwaukee Brewers 8-5, their record stood at 57-61, 9 1/2 games behind the Cards in fourth place. Realistically, the Astros should focus on perhaps getting the wild card bid which is even a long shot. After an off-day Monday, Houston is home against the Florida Marlins Tuesday-Thursday and then entertains the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend.
The Dallas Cowboys looked very unimpressive losing to the Oakland Raiders 31-10 in their opening exhibition game last week while the Houston Texans’ defense looked good in their 16-10 win over Kansas City. But it must be pointed out that Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo played in only the first two series, accounting for the Pokes’ only touchdown.
A tip of the Korner Kap to the Bridge City Little League All-Stars who came up two innings short of earning a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Bridge City led 4-2 going into the fifth inning but lost to Texas West 6-4, narrowly missing a trip they would have remembered for the rest of their lives.
JUST BETWEEN US…Local high school head football coaches have a better idea of the areas that need improvement after last weekend’s first scrimmages. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs got off to a slow start but finally beat the stubborn Dayton Broncos 13-7; the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears played Texas City to a scoreless 0-0 stalemate but new head coach Randy Crouch was pleased with the effort, especially with the younger players on the JV and freshmen teams; Orangefield was outmanned by the Class 4A Vidor Pirates but first-year head coach Brian Huckabay feels like the team is making good progress while Pirates’ head coach Jeff Mathews is happy with his team’s effort; Bridge City’s coach Cris Stump wasn’t pleased with the Cardinals’ scrimmage at Lumberton and felt the team has a long way to go and a short time to get it done; Deweyville held its own against both Kirbyville and the Silsbee JV. This weekend’s scrimmages find the Mustangs visiting Vidor, LCM hosting Silsbee, Bridge City at Shepherd and Deweyville traveling to Hull-Daisetta.