Y.E. Yang told the guests at the Champions Dinner how his popularity has skyrocketed in his native Korea in the months since he won the PGA Championship. (Photo: The PGA of America)
Bermuda Shorts: Champions Dinner provides chance to revel in success
With TNT's Jim Huber serving as Master of Ceremony, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf's annual Champions Dinner was extra-special as this year's major winners discussed the amazing victories that brought them all to Bermuda.
By John Kim, Coordinating Producer
SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda -- It was a night of elegance, celebration and quite a few laughs. The highly anticipated Champions Dinner is an intimate annual chat with each participant at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf -- or as intimate as you can be with a few hundred people, including a slew of dignitaries from the world of golf and the government of Bermuda -- in the audience hanging on every word.
TNT’s Jim Huber served as the host on a night in which each major championship winner took time to relive his memorable win and share his thoughts on how his win has changed his life.
Masters champion Angel Cabrera took the stage first and talked about the significance of his win at Augusta National and the validation of winning a second major championship title.
“The first one could maybe be a little luck,” he admitted, “but a second one means maybe I can win many more.”
And in remembering his magical Sunday charge at Augusta, he talked fondly of his clutch birdie putt on hole No. 16 and his travails on the first playoff hole, where he saved par from out of the trees.
“The tournament is 72 holes,” he said in terms of never giving up when the Masters looked to be a Kenny Perry victory in the making. “And sometimes you don’t take the easiest route.”
U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover then joined Huber and talked about the hectic and rain-soaked week that was the U.S. Open -- “I didn’t hit a shot on Thursday, played 31 holes on Friday” -- and his battle with himself that ultimately led him to his historic win.
“I put the clubs away for four months,” he shared about the end of his 2008 season. “I was trying too hard and not getting results. I needed a better perspective and I got it, with the help of a lot of people. But it was really what I needed.”
Stewart Cink was next and relived his incredible Open Championship week, including his battle with golf icon Tom Watson as Watson tried to capture the Claret Jug for a sixth time at the age of 59.
“I’ve always been a guy under the radar,” he said. “In most tournaments, I’ve often been the ‘other guy’ in the group.”
Cink relayed how that perspective worked to his advantage at Turnberry, where he really wasn’t considered a potential winner until late in the day on Sunday.
“When I had the chance to play in the playoff I was excited, where for Tom it was a letdown,” he explained.
Cink also shared when he felt began to feel like he might win the Open Championship during that final round.
“I could tell he [Watson] felt the pressure of the week when he hit the second shot on 18 and the ball hit the center of the green,” he explained. “You don’t want the ball to hit on the green there. Making mental lapses is the first sign that the pressure might be getting to you.”
Finally, PGA Champion Y.E. Yang came on stage and talked about what his win at Hazeltine meant for golf in Asia, his impact on golf history and his epic battle with Tiger Woods.
“It was always a dream of mine to play with Tiger Woods,” he told the crowd. “I knew I would lose anyways, so why not go out and just enjoy the dream. But fate had other plans in mind.”
Yang said that he was often anonymous as he walked through his native South Korea, but now he needs a slew of bodyguards when he goes out in public. And sometimes, even that isn’t enough.
“Sometimes, they get past the bodyguards,” he explained, “as if getting my autograph or picture was all-important to them.”
Each member of the foursome also expressed a great appreciation for the beauty of the Bermuda setting and the hospitality of everyone involved in the Grand Slam of Golf. It was a night for recalling great memories and making some special new ones.