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YANG EYES DOUBLE HAPPINESS AHEAD OF BALLANTINE’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Jeju Island, Korea: An inspired Y.E. Yang is targeting a home victory at next week’s Ballantine’s Championship which he knows will spark further joy for his family.
The Korean superstar, Asia’s first Major champion, plans to launch a double celebration as his sister is getting married this week.
Fresh from an eighth place finish at the Masters Tournament last week, Yang, whose full name is Yang Yong-eun, has made no secret about his intentions to stamp his mark in the Ballantine’s Championship, sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Korea PGA.
The €2.2 million (approximately US$2.9 million) event returns to the Pinx Golf Club from April 22-25.
“My sister is getting married this week, so I hope I can deliver a nice wedding present for her through my good play at the Ballantine’s Championship,” said Yang.
Expectations of Yang have skyrocketed in the wake of his historic victory at Hazeltine where he won the US PGA Championship by defeating Tiger Woods. The Korean believes he will be ready to meet those expectations.
“I guess there will be a bit more people rooting for me and my main goal is to leave an impression with them, the sponsors who have invested so much in me and ultimately put up a good show worthy of a Major winner,” added Yang.
Born and raised on the honeymoon island of Jeju, Yang has come a long way from his humble beginnings where he picked up golf at the age of 19 and honed his game by watching countless hours of instructional videos by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Nick Faldo.
The Asian Tour honorary member said the secret to his success lies in hard work and perseverance. “I think I have learnt how to handle my nerves, but philosophy wise, it has always been step by step. I always keep it steady and slow, and not try to rush it. If I had tried to vault myself from the Korean PGA to the PGA Tour, I think I would still be playing in Korea,” he said.
“The Asian Tour was different from playing the Korea PGA since the competition was so much better, the travelling was taxing and there were many other variables such as weather changes, playing conditions, food and family. For instance back then, the KPGA winnings were minimal and the competition was only average. But on the Asian Tour, everything was bigger and better. The course conditions were always different and you had to adapt your game to the different playing conditions.
“All these variables enabled and pushed me to become a player with versatile skills and adaptive characteristics. I made many good friends on the Asian Tour. Guys like Charlie Wi and Thongchai Jaidee really pushed me hard,” added Yang.
Yang’s title ambitions will be put to the test when he faces a world-class field led by three-time Major winner Ernie Els, Korean-American Anthony Kim who finished third at the Masters as well as three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner and defending champion, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand at the Ballantine’s Championship, which was inaugurated in 2008.