Updated August. 28, 2009 03:40
Y.E. Yang, the first Asian-born golfer to win a major PGA title, said yesterday that he promised to play a round of golf with former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Yang was speaking to a news conference at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, just a day before the FedEx Cup playoff opener at The Barclays.
He said that when he went to Carlsbad in Southern California to visit the headquarters of his sponsor TaylorMade last week, he met Bush and chatted with him for 30 minutes.
Yang said Bush talked of his relationship with Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his visit to Jeju Island, Yangs hometown, to make a speech.
We sort of promised to play a round of golf when our schedules were OK, Yang said. And I told him that Id be willing to skip a tournament or two if he were willing to play golf with me. So Im looking forward to that as well.
Bush and Yang both recently moved to Dallas.
On how he maintained his composure while playing against Tiger Woods for the PGA Championship, Yang said, I played the game thinking that Id swing my shots because I had nothing to lose even if Woods beat me. If I face Woods again (at The Barclays), Ill stay cool and just do my best in shooting.
The hour-long news conference was conducted half in Korean and half in English, with some 50 reporters both Korean and non-Korean attending.
As Yang walked off to a driving range for training, 30 to 40 fans asked him for his autograph, showing his meteoric rise to stardom. American fans also cheered for him, calling him a nice champion and asking him to beat Woods again.
While Yang was signing autographs, Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who won this years Masters, came to shake the Koreans hand and congratulate him for winning a major.
Padraig Harrington told Korean journalists that Yang is good enough to beat Woods.
Fellow Korean golfer Charlie Wi said, Yang has excellent mind control. His victory in a major championship made me confident, too.
The following are excerpts from Yangs news conference.
Question: How have things changed since you won the PGA Championship?
Yang: I was sorry that so few Korean journalists showed interest in me even as I competed in majors. Ive now received a rush of interview requests. Before the victory, more than half of the American fans I met asked for my autograph but thought I was K.J. Choi. Now they call me Yang. American players have also recognized and congratulated me on the championship.
Question: What does the taegeukgi (Korean national flag) on your bag mean?
Yang: As PGA events are broadcast in dozens of countries around the world, I thought the flag could encourage Koreans living overseas while letting non-Koreans know about our national flag.
Question: How did you play against Tiger Woods with composure?
Yang: Ive always tried to do my best in shooting with a comfortable mind. There is a saying that goes that its not over until you take off your gloves after the 18th hole. I just played and thought Id play a game I wouldnt regret afterwards even if I lost.
Question: When did you decide to compete in the Presidents Cup?
Yang: Greg Norman called me to congratulate me a few days after the championship was over, asking me to participate in the Presidents Cup. I will try to play for the team since its the first Presidents Cup Ill play in.
Question: Is it true that you will attend Korea University in Seoul?
Yang: Ive always wanted to go to university. I am seeking admission from Korea University.
Question: Do you feel uncomfortable about being unable to speak English?
Yang: I can communicate with my caddie on the green. I dont speak good English but that doesnt make me uncomfortable. I have no plan to take English lessons. Im a professional golfer. Wouldnt be better if I use my time to practice golf more?