Most summaries of the US Open’s opening 36 holes have mentioned the play of Y.E. Yang in passing, as a pedestrian counter-point to the heroics of Rory McIlroy. The former PGA champion, we’re told, would be leading this tournament on any other week, under any other circumstances, were it not for the apparently superhuman efforts of Northern Ireland’s star in waiting.
At five-under-par for the tournament, however, having successfully paired his opening 68 with a two-under 69 on Friday afternoon, Yang isn’t ruling anything out. After all, he managed to take another of the game’s young stars apart over the final two rounds of last year’s Korean Open.
“Last year actually during the Korea Open back home, I played against Seung Noh, he was ten strokes ahead of me, and I won the Korea Open. So anything can happen in golf, really. I know it’s sort of a different kind of level of golf tournament, but still, there are many amazing things that happen in golf.”
That’s a nice six-shot lead you have there, Rory. It would be a shame if, you know, something were to happen to it…
Anxious to avoid placing himself under any unnecessary pressure to begin eroding McIlroy’s six-shot lead, Yang has committed himself to a patient, meditative strategy. Asked how significant he felt a six-shot lead around Congressional could be heading into the weekend, he sounded confident, not in the inevitability of victory, but in his ability to respond to whatever circumstances should present themselves.
“I don’t know what the score would be. I don’t have any specific number. I do have a strategy and that’s just to zone out everything around me and just play my game. I’m just going to try and block out everybody around me and every aspect around me and just imagine as if I’m just going to play — I’m just having a practice round of my own.”
I hope Yang doesn’t get too into the practice round mentality. It would be a shame if he were to ruin his US Open hopes by hitting a few extra pitches during a quiet moment.