Yang shoots to head of pack


POSTED: Saturday, March 07, 2009

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. » To say Y.E. Yang has had an erratic career would be putting it mildly.

He beat Tiger Woods to win the HSBC Champions in 2006. Three weeks later, he finished well out of contention at Q-School. And he got disqualified trying to defend his title at Shanghai, because someone following play on the Internet noticed his scorecard was incorrect.

And now, the latest upswing for Yang: He's the leader midway through the Honda Classic.

Yang shot a bogey-free round of 5-under 65, moving to 7 under through two rounds at PGA National. The South Korean was one shot ahead of Will MacKenzie (67), Jeff Overton (67) and Robert Allenby (68).

“;Prior to my win at the HSBC Champions in 2006, people in Korea knew me ... but outside of Korea, people really didn't know me at all,”; Yang said through an interpreter. “;But after beating Tiger at the HSBC, people starting recognizing me, not only in Korea but outside as well. To be mentioned in the same context as Tiger, it's very honorable.”;

Of the top 21 players on the leaderboard, only MacKenzie and Stewart Cink have PGA Tour wins since 2006.

“;It just goes to show how much better, more competitive it's become the last few years,”; Overton said. “;Tiger raised the bar and it's unbelievable how good these guys are. It really is. It's unbelievable how many players have not won yet, but only one guy wins each week. You only have 35 or 40 weeks, you get Tiger winning half of them, so there's not a lot of room for other players.”;

Seems like there will be this weekend.

Ben Crane, winless since 2005, shot a 5-under 65 on his 33rd birthday to get to 5 under, two shots off Yang's pace. David Mathis (68) was alone at 4 under, and six others were at 3 under, including Greg Chalmers (who shot 64, Friday's best round) and Harrison Frazar (65).

“;It's easy to fade on this golf course,”; said MacKenzie, who won the Viking Classic last fall. “;You've got to somehow have confidence and take your medicine when you have to ... swallow your pride and make bogey sometimes.”;

Yang—who needed only 25 putts yesterday, one-putting 11 times—hasn't been in that position much so far.

He's made one bogey in the first two rounds—the 12th hole on Thursday, and immediately followed that with a birdie.

Erik Compton's stirring run continued with his second straight round of 69, getting him to 2 under in his second PGA Tour event since undergoing heart-transplant surgery for the second time last year.

Yesterday, Compton walked alongside John Paul George, 14, who has a condition called hypoplastic left heart. In layman's terms, it means the left side of the boy's heart doesn't work.

John Paul is 4-foot-1 and looks barely half his age. And he was exhausted afterward—just like Compton—but the boy finished the whole course.

“;This is the best day of my life,”; Paul said.


Creamer, Park lead HSBC

SINGAPORE » Americans Paula Creamer and Jane Park shot 1-under 71s to share the second-round lead in the LPGA Tour's HSBC Women's Champions.

The third-ranked Creamer, coming off a third-place finish last week in Thailand, matched Park at 6-under 138 on the Tanah Merah Country Club's Garden Course.

Katherine Hull shot a 69 to join Mi Hyun Kim (68) at 5 under.


Langer looks to repeat

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. » Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot a 6-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Toshiba Classic, one stroke ahead of Jim Colbert, Bob Gilder and Eduardo Romero.


Two catch Barnes

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand » American Steve Friesen shot a 3-under-par 69 today to take a one-shot lead overSteve Alker of New Zealand and second-round co-leader Kurt Barnes of Australia after three rounds of the New Zealand PGA Championship.