South Korea's Yang Young-eun's win at the 91st PGA Championship has once again underlined the growing strength of the game in Asia with the Asian Tour playing a big role in the development of the game in the continent.
Voted Korean PGA Tour rookie of the year in 1999, Yang honed his game in Asia where he played regularly from 1999 to 2003 before moving on to Japan where he won five titles.
The South Korean's big break on the Asian Tour came in 2006 when he won his maiden title at the Kolon Hana Bank Korea Open.
The year was made even more memorable when he won the HSBC Champions in Shanghai by beating Tiger Woods in an elite field that included 10 of the world's top-20 players.
Yang followed the footsteps of compatriot and Asian Tour' s honorary member, K.J Choi by moving to the U.S. PGA Tour after earning his Tour card from Qualifying School in 2007.
Asia has been yearning for a Major champion since Lu Liang-huan of Chinese Taipei came close with a runner-up finish to Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in 1971 and Yang has now inked his place in history following his three-shot victory over Woods at the the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota on Sunday.
Asian Tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han hailed Yang's landmark win and believes that it has now set the stage for more Asian golfers to make their breakthrough on the world stage.
"This is a fantastic win not only for Yang but also for golf in Asia. The way he won by defeating Tiger head-to-head was definitely a thrill to watch," said Han.
"I played with Yang when he first started his career on the Asian Tour and I've known him to be a very talented and hardworking player. This win has once again underlined the growing strength of the game in Asia. With many of our young players showing a lot of promise, I see a great future ahead for Asian golf," added Han.
Fellow Asian Tour players also lauded the Yang's moment in history and believe that the South Korean has paved the way for them to emulate his success.
"This is a big bonus for Asian golf. It'll show the rest of Asia that winning a Major is possible and it'll encourage more players to increase their drive and determination," said Malaysia's Iain Steel.
"This is very good for the Asian Tour. I never expected him to win a Major but it shows that anything can happen with determination and hard work," added Danny Chia of Malaysia.
"It's really exciting news to see an Asian winner at a Major. This is good for Asian Tour players and he has become our pride and joy," said Asian Tour rookie Mohammad Siddikur who became the first ever player from Bangladesh to earn playing rights on the Asian Tour when he finished in the top-40 at Qualifying School this year.
(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2009)