Yang’s PGA Championship Win Boosts Golf in Korea

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on August 17, 2009

South Korean golfer Y.E. Yang’s surprise win in Sunday’s U.S. PGA Championship will certainly boost the sport’s standing in his country. After all Yang became the first Asia-born man to win a major in the golfing history and he broke the legend of Tiger Woods who had never allowed his opponent to overcome his third-round lead at a major until he met the Korean.

Yang himself predicted a spike in interest in the sport just like his fellow female golfer Pak Se-ri sparked a huge boom in Korea in 1998 when she won the McDonalds’s LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open as a rookie. Already, Korean President Lee Myung Bak lavished praise over Yang, telephoning him to offer congratulations shortly after he won the tournament. The International Olympic Committee’s plan to introduce golf at the 2016 Olympics will also help attract more attention to the sport, given that Korea already has many of the best women golfers in the world.

But Yang is not expected to create lots of buzz among marketers, at least for the time being. Unlike Korean swimmer Park Tae Hwan who became an immediate target for companies seeking endorsement deals after he won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Yang needs to build up a record of wins before he could win big-money ad deals, sports marketing specialists point out. While teenager Park is bound to win media spotlights for many tournaments in the future, Yang, 37, had made only two cuts in seven previous starts at majors. Yang has yet to prove the cold world of marketers that he scored one the golfing history’s greatest upsets not simply because Woods had a bad day on the greens.

Reader Comments

Chipotle

August 17, 2009 6:20 PM

Moon I'm suprised by your prediction on endorsements. Yes Y.E Yang is not a consistent presence yet on the tour and he's not as marketable as Park Tae Hwan but you underestimate what the impact of not only being the first asian born player to win a major but beating Woods to do it. Park Tae Hwan did not beat Michael Phelps, Yang beat Woods and that generates a lot of pride and gratitude to Yang for Koreans which will translate to endorsements. Maybe not super long term endorsements but right now he's the hottest thing out there. Also I don't see how you could say he just won because Woods had a bad day. Yeah I'm sure Mike Tyson or the Baltimore Colts or the Russian hockey team were having bad days too. Simply not self-destructing next to Woods is an accomplishment in it of itself, ask Padriag Harrington. Bottom line yeah we know the guy isn't the next Yu-Na Kim in terms of marketing, stop being a killjoy.

Jin

August 17, 2009 8:44 PM

I toally agree, having a bad day is also part of the game.

bob

August 18, 2009 9:23 AM

What if Yang had a bad day? would you be blaming his poor performance if he would have lost. Yang performed and beat the best! give credit where credit is due.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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