Well, it’s happened.
Tiger Woods has choked.
OK, so maybe that’s a bit harsh, and it certainly doesn’t give near enough credit to the brilliant play of Y.E. Yang on Sunday as he stared down the most dominant player the game has ever seen and absolutely robbed the PGA Championship.
You know the numbers by now — Woods was 36-1 when leading or tied for the lead after 54 holes, and 14-0 in majors in the same circumstances.
But that was before Sunday.
Let’s be clear — Yang was brilliant. Brilliant. His back nine was impeccable, and the chip-in eagle on 14 is the shot of the year. He is truly deserving on this day to have become the first Asian-born player to win a major golf championship. This is a historic achievement, and his play on Sunday earned him his place in the golf annals for all time.
Simply put, Y.E. Yang has changed the game of golf around the world with one win.
But you have to wonder how Woods — and his final round 75 (had Lefty done this, everybody would say it was a choke job, right?) — feels about this one. He held the 18-, 36- and 54-hole lead, leading by one, four and two shots, respectively. And yet he somehow didn’t capitalize. He played some great shots — it felt like he was putting from 12 feet for birdie all day — but he missed everything on the greens. And some of them weren’t close to finding the bottom of the cup.
His tee shot on the par-3 17th looked like it was going to be Vintage Tiger, where he throws a dart and begins a fateful finish. But Woods’ shot carried just a little too long and led to a bogey, and even though Yang showed some tightness with his own three-putt bogey on 17 to only stay up by one, he played 18 like the man who was supposed to win — by rifling a 3 hybrid right at the pin.
And so, in the end, the man everyone thought was going to walk to his 15th major title, instead limped home, and it has to be said: when Tiger trails on Sunday in a major, he doesn’t win.
And after 14, he trailed.
And so ends possibly the strangest year in major championship golf, one in which the fan favorite couldn’t close the door down the stretch in any of the four majors, one in which the great story we only believe comes true in Disney movies seemed like it was on the cusp of happening four different times, ends with a winner no one saw coming.
Did Tiger choke? You may not think so.
But I bet he does.