PGA Tour Confidential: Honda Classic

Y.E. Yang, Honda Classic
David Walberg/SI
Along with a big paycheck and a two-year exemption, Y.E. Yang earned a trip to the Masters after winning the Honda Classic on Sunday.

Every week of the 2009 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Greetings from Florida. Your grapefruit and baby alligator will arrive shortly. Meanwhile, the weekly Tour Confidential is now in session. Anyone besides me ordering Rosetta Stone to start working on my Korean? The invasion is imminent. Y.E. Yang (honk if you hadn't heard of him before last week) just won the Honda, Jiyai Shin won the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. (I stand by my earlier prediction that she will overtake Lorena Ochoa as the No. 1 golfer in the world in less than two years.) And Korea beat China in that lame world baseball tournament.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I renew my suggestion that Asian players should adapt nicknames in the manner of Birdie Kim — anything but initials! If Yang calls himself Ying he'll gain instant name recognition.

Jim Herre, editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: Just finished this week's Golf Plus Big Play session with Eric Johnson, the director of instruction at Oakmont. He's a Yang fan -- loves Yang's tempo, temperament and iron play. Eric's tip will be a good one -- how to control distances with the scoring irons. Eric says Yang is good at this, but Tiger Woods is the best.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Eric Johnson was just visiting Mike Bender at his Korean teaching school around Orlando and Eric was blown away by the intensity, dedication and skill of the hordes of Koreans -- kids, adults, pros, amateurs, boys, girls -- working there.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: It's hard to find a compelling storyline from this week's slate of events. However I enjoyed seeing Erik Compton, a recipient of two heart transplants, make it to the weekend at the Honda Classic.

Van Sickle: Guess we'll be seeing more of Yang. Not only does this win get him in the Masters, but he's in next week at Doral, too. He's moving up. I was glad to see him two-putt for the win. It's never fun watching a guy three-jack it to potentially lose, the way Boo Weekley did in a past Honda.

Herre: We all cringed when we heard NBC bring up the possibility of a Yang three-jack. Why go there?

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: 'Twas a 50 foot putt, though, no? Stuff happens.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Plus, it goes back to various Asian baseball closers who have given up some big home runs. There is the lingering stereotype that Asian athletes are susceptible to choking. Maybe Yang's gutsy performance will help explode that myth.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: Don't know if that tracks in golf, though. Anyone who even casually follows the LPGA couldn't believe that anymore. Those women have proven themselves many times over.

Shipnuck: It was only a matter of time before Korean men (beyond K.J. Choi) started making a splash on the world golf scene. There is too much fanaticism for the sport in that country for only female golfers to be inspired.

Gorant: Yang certainly talked about a win serving as a Se Ri Pak moment for Korean men. The highly touted Danny Lee considers himself a Kiwi, but he was born in Korea and lived there until he was 8.

Hack: Charlie Wi was also born in Seoul, but I think he claims the Cal Golden Bears above all else. Let's not forget Kevin Na, either. Also born in Seoul and playing a lot better this year.

Shipnuck: Talking to Padraig Harrington about Ryo Ishikawa, he had an interesting take on why Asian players have always struggled outside of Asia. He said it had nothing to do with golf but was cultural -- Paddy's played a lot around the world and thinks many of the Japanese and Korean men feel out of sorts in the U.S. and Europe. Their home tours are very collegial and over here they're all alone. Now that more Asian players will be teeing it up in the biggest events that should only help them assimilate their games.

Evans: Alan, your assessment of Paddy's assessment of Asian golfers in America is pretty lame. Asians dominate Ivy League admissions and Silicon Valley. I think they can assimilate to a darn golf course.

Shipnuck: That was Paddy's theory, not mine, but I think it makes sense. One of Ryo's people told me he was happy to hobnob with the Japanese owners at Riviera because it made him feel more at home, as he was otherwise a tad overwhelmed being in LA. Granted, he's only 17, but I don't think Rory McIlroy felt the same dislocation going to Tucson.

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